Blessed Art Thou
aka: A Question of Faith
dir-scr Tim Disney
with Martha Hackett, Paul Guilfoyle, Bernard Hill, Naveen Andrews, Daniel von Bargen, Joe Spano, David Thornton, Michael Cudlitz, Brent Hinkley, Randy Oglesby, Kenneth Tigar
release St Louis Film Fest Nov.00
00/US 1h30 2 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Blessed Art Thou will probably be retitled A Question of Faith when it's released in the USA
A provocative, fascinating premise is wrapped in a gentle, underplayed little film. It's about a monk (Hackett) who has a vision of the Angel Gabriel and undergoes a startling physical transformation ... from a surfer-accountant to a pregnant woman! The film's story centres on the reactions at his/her wine-making monastery, most notably the inability of the older priests (Hill, von Bargen, Spano) to recognise a miracle when it happens right under their noses.

There are two serious flaws here. First, the moment we meet Brother Anselm we know he's played by a woman (plucked eyebrows, face structure and mannerisms all give it away). This eliminates any question about what is happening to him and somewhat undercuts the drama. And secondly, while Disney has crafted a beautiful-looking film with finely detailed performances, the characters are surprisingly simplistic and uncomplex. They're either good or bad without any shades of grey, with the possible exception of Father Francis (Guilfoyle), the story's narrator who is struggling with his response to the event. And this is a big flaw indeed, because the film is supposedly about faith itself, and yet not one character ever grapples with their beliefs. So in the end it merely becomes a story about how the fear of change leads to deceipt and duplicity. But with an outrageous premise like this, that's surely not the right point to dwell on! As it is, it's a decent enough little film that could have been much, much more.

[themes, language] 6.Nov.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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