While, at first look, I Am may seem like a rehashed knock-off of the controversial book The Shack, the film contains little to incite controversy. God takes on the form of an African American man in casual clothes in the film. However, His conversations with the characters of the film seem more like the quiet conversations, pleas and prayers of the heart than like face-to-face, God intervening encounters. The conversations feel like what’s presented in Romans 2:15: “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them at other times even defending them.”
The true heart of I Am lies in the Ten Commandments, however, as the commandments are shown on the screen throughout the movie as different characters encounter the consequences of their actions taken against the commandments. Some such actions take the form of odd, unexpected sins. One woman, for example, puts “other gods before me” when she has herself frozen in order to keep herself alive. The man who freezes her after she blackmails him has visions of the woman taunting him, tempting him to kill her, and, thus, he creates a “graven image.”
Other applications of the commandments are refreshingly different. Instead of focusing on the common conception of God forbidding the use of his name as a swear word, the film shows a man using God’s name to sell a product, or “taking God’s name in vain.” Another character learns to honor the Sabbath, not by setting aside a day every week for God and church, but by taking time to rest from work and life’s troubles to spend time on the things that really matter, such as being with his family.
These situations are part of a larger plot as other commandments like the commandment to not commit adultery come into play and as the lives of the ten main characters intertwine. There’s no one consistent plot to follow, and the different stories can confuse the viewer because of the way they are organized, but the pieces come together in the end to complete a puzzle that makes viewers think about their own lives.
Ultimately, I Am is not about preaching a bunch of rules and stuffing them in the viewer’s face. Instead, it is about finding peace in life. Revenge, human love, science, alcohol, memorialization of a passed loved one and everything else can never erase the past. As the God in the film says, the past can find justice, but man can never forget. What man truly needs is peace.