I Am Gabriel (2012)

I-Am-Gabriel-2012 movie reviewI Am Gabriel might be seen as an uplifting and inspirational film by some people, but those adjectives are the least likely I would pick to describe after seeing it.

The action takes place in Promise, a suburban Texas city filled with people overwhelmed with problems, struggling to get by in their daily lives – people who have lost their hope for a better tomorrow. And then one day, a mysterious boy appears, walking alone on the side of the road carrying only one item with him – a prayer mat. He brings a message of hope and revival to the people of Promise – a way to salvation if they listen, accept and believe.

As a Christian-themed movie, I Am Gabriel has all the best of intentions.  But the way the story is presented is so cheesy it almost becomes laughable at times. Instead of making a subtle story of goodness meant to inspire (as in Mimi Leder’s 2000 film Pay it Forward – starring Haley Joel Osment) or invoking emotions through brilliant storytelling (as in the 2003 masterpiece Most ),   I Am Gabriel is filled with so much in your face preaching that I suspect even the Christian support groups in the USA (who represent the only audience this film can really aim at) would find that the film is unlikely to achieve its otherwise admirable mission to spread the message of God or hope – or at least not without annoying its undoubtedly extremely patient audience.

Gavin Casalegno`s eyes

Gabriel`s ( Gavin Casalegno ) eyes

The technical aspects of the movie are nothing to rave about either.  The camera work leaves a lot to be desired.  There are numerous issues with the focus, camera angles and even the lighting of the scenes. The picture’s cinematographic quality feels inferior even compared to the low-budgeted productions of my local TV channel.  And the audio effects and scores that accompanied the action are overemphasized to the point of being annoying.  Most of the scenes feel staged, and the dialogue is stilted and unnatural. The cast, which is comprised predominately of non-professional actors, tried their best.  But even the charisma of the young Gavin Casalegno in Gabriel’s title (pay attention to the extreme close-up shots of his eyes) is not enough to compensate for the poorly written and executed script.

The best thing I can say about I Am Gabriel is that it features a family-friendly story with good intentions, and it’s suitable for all ages. But if you’re looking for an inspirational story that can entertain while teaching moral lessons,  you are better off choosing to Pay it Forward instead.

I Am Gabriel Official Trailer


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  1. I am writing this in Jan 2021, the world is going crazy and this is the 3rd time I have watched this film. I spent the better part of 6 months spiritually cleaning my home and I started with the most obvious, my entertainment. I kid you not, when I put aside any DvD with unholy subject matter, nothing remained. I was reminded of how much money I spent on my sinful life. Yes, this is a film made on a lower budget but I love the message. Too often in my life I viewed God as always wanting to trip me up, of being stern and not someone I could talk to. Getting rid of the things that kept the door open for Satan showed me why I felt like I was getting nowhere spiritually. God is love and if you are looking at this film as a message of anything else, watch it again. Greg, I hope this finds you in a better place, secure in how much God loves you and wants a relationship with you. God Bless- Dawn

  2. My apologies…..the movie wasn’t over yet when I submitted my previous comment. Part of the angel scene could have been considered a little “cheesy”, but again, is there really a way to portray magnificence on a limited budget??

    • I would argue that there is a way. And not every film with a limited budget is bound to end up inferior to well funded productions. A good screenplay, talented cast – and some knowledge of how cinema works are often more than enough.

  3. I thought the movie was excellent. We need more movies like this that show good things can happen in life. I would definitely recommend it for the entire family.

    • I also thought the movie was excellent, so much so, that I must have watched it 15 times concurrently without exaggeration! There may be some scenes that could have utilized better technology, but the point of this movie was to make a statement–God loves us. I believe the characters appear VERY real. Dean Cain’s characterization of the sheriff reminded me of my late husband’a anger at God that he carried with him daily until s few hours before he died. I think the movies succeeds in conveying its wonderful, touching message. Well. gotta run! I am going to watch it AGAIN!!!!

    • I couldn’t agree more, Deborah. Yes, you could see it was not a big production film, but it was far better than many others I have seen. The story was powerful! And young Gavin Casalegno gave a performance that rivals any I have seen from a boy so young and inexperienced. He was as good as Brad Renfro in ‘The Cure’ and in my opinion as captivating as the excellent Haley Joel Osment in Pay it Forward. Yes, his eyes are mesmerizing, but so was his subtly in this performance.

      I am one who is in the midst of a terrible spiritual struggle that has been ongoing for more than 7 years. I do talk to God as I would a friend or a loved one, yet He seems silent. I have no one else in my life to turn to, not one person. I struggle to understand, to see, to survive, and to trust in Him. I can identify with Brody even though I am not angry like he. Mostly, I am afraid and alone. I was deeply moved by this young performer’s presence on screen and by his message.

      As far as the comment that this movie was preachy, I find this absurd. In a country where politically correct network execs find ways daily to preach another message to us on TV, I found this movie refreshingly honest and the delivery of the message powerful in its simplicity and tenderness.

      I sit here now, believing God wanted me to see this tonight, even though I am not certain why. I remain fearful and feel very much alone in the world. I have not one friend, and only one relative who cares if I continue on this earth another day. I am losing her as she has begun her new family and I know I must let go, even though this leaves me utterly alone in the world.

      I know the hopelessness of Promise, Texas. Tonight, I do not know the hope that ‘Gabe’ brought to that town. I fought daily for more than 7 years to hold onto hope as it was daily ripped out of me by people and forces I cannot fight any longer. I can no longer hold onto hope. My heart and spirit cry out to God daily, even hourly. I do not know what will be tomorrow, but for the 90 minutes of this film, I felt, so briefly, that maybe tomorrow I will find a way yet again to go on. To survive another day without hope.

      I do not know if anyone else was touched as I was by this film, but I still want to have hope, with my whole heart I do. I have so much love in my heart that I want to give. The people I love with all of my heart do not love me (save one), nor do they even want my love. I can only believe that I could not continue to love them so much if God had stopped loving me. I would give my life for any one of them in a heartbeat, without hesitation, and with not one regret. God’s silence is deafening and breaks my heart daily, but I still want to love and still do love even those who have abandoned me. Could I if God no longer loves me? I cannot imagine I could.

      I hope The writer of this film will do more and I hope that the career of young Gavin will blossom and then sprout wings and soar to the heights I see he is capable of achieving. He is one in ten million.

      Thank you Mike Norris at 2nd Fiddle Entertainment. I can go on for another day thanks to you, the story, and young Gavin’s performance.

  4. creo q tendrías q mirarla mas y ver tu vida comparada con la película y dejar de criticar y tirar abajo tanto trabajo que se abra puesto en la película. yo eso lo llamaría (envidia) . y tal vez toco muchas cosas de tu vida y al no aceptarlas las rechazas con todo lo que decís…

    mi humilde opinión ( personal ) : mas allá de todos los detalles , prefiero que se hagan películas con mensajes así AH que se hagan películas con muchos detalles pero incluyendo el SEXO Y VIOLENCIA , como espectáculo , la verdad mucha juventud se pierde por películas y héroes o referencias de vida con personajes que jamas tendrían que estar asiendo esos papeles pero bue. muy buena y se recomienda verlas con chiquitos para que tengan 1 buena enseñanza para su vida… con cariño luis

    Automatic translation into English :

    I’d look over and see your life compared to the film and stop criticizing and pull down to open much work put into the movie. I’d call it (envy). and maybe play many things in your life and to not accept the refuse with everything you say …

    IMHO (personal): beyond every detail, I prefer to make films with messages that make AH and movies with many details but including sex and violence as spectacle, the truth is lost by many youth films and heroes or references to life with characters that never should be tackling these roles but good. very good and is recommended for viewing with young children who have one good lesson for his life … with love luis

    • Hello Luis,

      Its not the message of the movie that I criticize in my review , but the approach utilized to transmit it. While I might be willing to dismiss the technical imperfections – the narrative fails to engage . As with each movie I am full aware that the many people devoted their passion, skills and time so that we can experience the story – yet the work is finally judged by its audience – the viewers .

      Each has its own criteria to judge a film based on knowledge and personal experiences – so in no way your opinion is inferior than mine. Yet I think I used enough arguments to explain why my final evaluation of the film is what it is.

      With risk of repeating myself I will recommend you to see ” Pay it Foreword ” and compare the way it introduces the value of goodness and faith with ” I am Gabriel ” .


    • I think what the previous comments referenced were pointed more toward the “cheesy” reference to a what supposedly is a “cheesy” presentation.

      That reference of yours can only be attributed to a lack of real understanding of the spiritual truth and action that is available to those who believe.

      I’m not sure there is any media that can accurately portray the real

      I can only hope that someday you, others like you, and even those who claim Christianity and attend churches will see this type of thing in every day life.

      Bless God and his love.

      I am curious though, would you be able to give references of the “in the face preaching” that you mention. I will definitely watch it again, but my feeling is that only if you infer the words directed at you would there be any “preaching at”.

      I recommend that you also watch it again … it may be worth your while.

    • Randy, I have never intended to offend any religion – be it Christianity, Islam, Buddhism …etc. Yet to me, in this particular film almost every other scene was “in the face preaching.” My job is to review the film for the readers of the site and I have always written my honest opinion. Yet one direct reference (from the trailer)- “I can`t make it real” and a response “God can”.

      I do agree 100% on this statement of yours: “I’m not sure there is any media that can accurately portray the real”. Yes, probably there isn’t – but at least some media tries…

      I would not want to enter into a religious discourse in a comment section on a film review, but can’t resist making one point: if God is everywhere, why does anyone need to get to a certain place in order to be close to him? He is everywhere right? Does going to church makes a person good or does not going translates into not believing?

      Yet your opinion goes to prove that each form of art will find its appreciators. We can’t all agree on everything, but I thank you for taking time to put your point forward.

    • I guess we will have to agree/disagree on “in your face preaching”, mine being the kind that is a proselytizing “enforcement”, not simply informational.

      Interesting choice of oomments though regarding “if God is everywhere”. Most “gods” except those in the form of idols or “reproductions” are thought of as “spiritual” and thus “might be” everywhere or anywhere, perhaps wherever prayer is offered.

      However, with reference to “church”, specifically the Christian definition, is more a gathering of believers, not to be “close to God” although that actually can happen if you understand the context. But more for encouragement and education of themselves, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Of course, some of that depends on the maturity of the “believer”, with those young in the faith seeing themselves closer to God either in such a gathering or in a specific place whether that be a church or wherever their life changing event had happened.

      Art appreciation….I hope that your thoughts of this type of art can “appreciate” in their value to your life.


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