All Saints Review
"A family friendly rendering of a compelling true-to-life story"
Films like All Saints
present an interesting challenge to film reviewers who are Christian. The reputation of Christian cinema and the inevitable comparison to the broader world of the film industry make for quite a juxtaposition. Production companies have seen the lucrative side of this market, but the genre continues to maintain the same reputation. Few films within this classification are able to break out and appeal to the broader cinematic audience, but every once and awhile the stories draw the general populace into theaters. Will the true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett) and All Saints Church make people want to come back to cinemas and maybe even church?
Pastor Spurlock was brought in by the local Episcopal diocese to close down the struggling church in rural Tennessee. At first Michael and his family were reserved to be the ministering church family while the building was being sold off to developers until a God inspired moment changed this process. The catalyst to the change was found in a community of Karen refugees from Burma who started to attend the church services. Under the leadership of Ye Win (Nelson Lee), this small group convinces the new pastor to risk it all to save the church by utilizing the land for crops. Threatening their reputation with the church leadership and their livelihood, the Spurlocks partner with this newly Americanized group to save their church and the local community.
The performances from John Corbett and Cara Buono as the Spurlocks did provide the heart to this tale of small town Tennessee. Their relationship serves as the centrality needed to connect the many components of the film. This connection with the Karen refugees, the upper church hierarchy and the local community of believers made each element believable. This feel good story is accessible for all ages and regardless of their faith position. The most shocking element is the lack of course language and violence, which has become a mainstay in modern filmmaking. This may cause some to judge it as being overly sanitized, but within this class of film it does not distract from the over all experience.
The timeless truths of All Saints
are hard to deny. The challenges of immigrants adjusting to new surroundings, watching the reliance of pastors of God as opposed to the wisdom of man and that many times great opposition pushes people to their best responses in life. These themes are on offer in a multitude of films, but what differentiates this film from others comes down to the packaging. Television-turned-feature film director Steve Gomer chose to go with the sweeter and abridged version that will appeal to the target market within the Christian community. This does not diminish the impact of the story and even though it may not be an Academy Award winning outing, it does provide an exceptional family friendly film option at the cinema.