Loving Life Leads You Home (Movie Review)

Billie Jo YoumansBy Billie Jo Youmans5 Minutes

Just the Facts

All Roads Lead Home is a 2008 drama starring Vivien Cardone (Belle), Jason London (Dad/Cody), Vanessa Branch (Lillian), Peter Coyote (Grandpa/Hock), and—in one of his last movies—Peter Boyle (Poovey).

When a tragic accident robs the young Lawlor family of a wife and mother, the stage is set for exploring how broken hearts heal, where do animal rights end and human rights prevail, is euthanasia ever warranted, and a few other rabbit trails. Yep, it’s kind of a lot. But with fields full of adorable animals, a spunky young star, and an ingenuous budding romance, All Roads Lead Home will tug your heartstrings—at least some of the time.

A Little Entertainment

On the light side, this is a movie you can watch with your children that doesn’t include vulgar language, immorality, or sex. You can spend a couple hours riding the rapids of emotion – grief, anger, rebellion, hope, and joy—knowing you’ll end up in a good place! The characters are strong-willed for things that are “good” and “right,” but there is no faith foundation guiding any of them. The innocence of childhood functions as the highest good in All Roads Lead Home, which is a higher plane than the world often operates on.

The storyline follows 12-year-old Belle and her dad as they navigate life without mom. In the miry land of grief, they struggle with several other major life concerns as well. Forced to “pull the plug” on his beloved wife after a car wreck, Cody struggles to move forward and help his daughter do the same. Along the way, the landmines of wrong assumptions, poor coping strategies, and miscommunication create explosive situations that damage family connections. Without a detailed spoiler, you can rest assured that love wins in the end.

A Little Deeper Digging

For those who can’t just “watch a movie” and move on (like me), there’s lots to unpack in this movie, and you could have some interesting conversations. Here’s a framework of faith for some of the deep issues explored in All Roads Lead Home.


Everyone copes differently and few do it well. It’s definitely not uncommon for those who remain behind to have trouble loving each other through the pain. With both parties hurting, it can be very hard to see another’s pain—or bear their burden when your own feels so heavy. But the struggle is worth it. Grief is evidence love has been deposited in you—the best honor to a lost loved one is living out that love for others.

Scriptures of Comfort: Psalm 34:18 & 147:3; Matthew 5:4 & 11:28-30; 2 Corinthians 1:3-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Practicing Good Communication

Shutting people out, making accusations, and living with assumptions destroy relationships every day. While grief creates a minefield of challenges, learning to communicate clearly and well makes every difficulty of life easier. There’s no time like the present for improving your communication skills.

Scriptures on Communication: Proverbs 15:7, 28, 18:13, 21; 1 Corinthians 13:1; Colossians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:16; 1 John 3:18


The topic is explored from the beginning of the movie to the very end. Young Belle’s passion for life comes face-to-face with death in several arenas. Convinced her dad does not value life enough, she fights for it on every front. Blaming her dad for letting the doctors pull the plug, angry with her grandpa’s dollars-and-cents approach to animal husbandry, and furious that community shelters put dogs down, she’s a youth on an emotional mission—without any rails to guide.

Scriptures on Life: Job 12:10; Psalm 39:4 & 90:12; Romans 12:10; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; James 1:2-3; 1 Peter 5:10

Living with Conviction

Belle navigates strong emotions with courage. Unafraid to stand up for what she believes in, she’s also willing to endure the heartache of making the hard choices life sometimes requires. While her convictions stem from emotion, the example she sets can inspire courage for more deeply rooted reasoning as well.

Scriptures of Courage: Psalm 119:89-91; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 4:1-2; Galatians 5:1; 1 Timothy 6:12