The best faith-based movie you never heard of is on the big screen even as you read this. You shouldn’t miss this refreshingly gentle, true tale that’s rated “PG.”
John Corbett (he played a minister in “Raising Helen” in 2004) plays a small-town preacher who tries to save the tiny All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee.
Corbett is Michael Spurlock, a former paper sales rep who has become a pastor. His wife Aimee (Cara Buono, television’s “Stranger Things”) and son Atticus (Myles Moore) accompany him from New York to the sleepy farming community, where he finds little support for a church that’s quickly going broke.
Spurlock is supposed to conduct an inventory and make the church look nice to the potential buyers who want it for the land that surrounds it. A Vietnam veteran who is a curmudgeonly sort (Barry Corbin, “No Country for Old Men” and who also was among the cast of “Northern Exposure” with Corbett) immediately tells Spurlock what he thinks of him — and it isn’t much.
The congregation begins to grow a little with the addition of Karen refugees from Burma. Ye Win (a marvelous Nelson Lee), leader of the refugee group, asks Spurlock for help.
Suddenly, the All Saints parishioners are planting the farmland around the church in an effort to help the refugees and save the parish simultaneously.
This script is smart, builds tension and develops its characters. It’s not some syrupy melodrama, but a beautiful telling of a real-life tale. To add to the realism, it was filmed at the real All Saints Episcopal Church, with some of the real members of the parish onscreen.
Corbett does a wonderful job of carrying the movie, with his co-stars turning in credible performances. The script is more the story of a community than a preaching-to-the-choir sermon, and that provides its strength.
I don’t know when I ever cared so much about a crop in a movie as I did about this one. And I’m not ashamed to say I was weeping by the time the movie drew to its inspirational close.
This is the story of the human condition at its finest. It probably could have been written to earn a harsher rating, but like last year’s wonderful “Hidden Figures” it doesn’t need to be vulgar or bloody to be authentic. A refugee tells a heart-wrenching story that could have been told in a flashback for shock value. But director Steve Gomer wisely uses Lee’s narrative talent to move the audience.
You may be moved to say, “I didn’t know they made movies like this anymore.”