Thursday, November 09, 2006
Written by Hombre Divertido
Though a bit heavy handed and reminiscent of a ‘70s made-for-television movie in performance, storytelling, and music, Conversations with God, which was adapted from the books by Neale Donald Walsch, does an effective job of telling the tale of a man’s journey not only from homelessness to affluence, but from being alone to having a relationship and conversations with God.
As is the case in many films, the flashback method of storytelling can often get in the way of effectively getting the message across, and does so to some extent here, but once we get past the clutter and are able to connect with Neale (Slightly overacted by Henry Czerny), this film does create moments that do pull us in.
If you can get past where the story is lacking, it is the immense vulnerability of Neale as he grasps on to any rung of his previous level of existence while slowly slipping further and further down society’s ladder that allows us to relate to his circumstances.
In one of the most poignant scenes in the film, we see Neale searching through a dumpster for cans to recycle into cash. Eyeing a half-eaten sandwich, Neale struggles with the decision to cross a line that he has set as the difference between himself and those in his new surroundings.
Neale Donald Walsch obviously went on a rollercoaster ride that is a fear for many of us, and though we may not all agree on where he found his salvation, and to whom he attributes his rebirth and level of success, watching how he deals with the situations that we all fear is a solid base on which to build a story for all to see.
There are moments in this movie that indicate God’s clear intervention, which may cause the secular world to dismiss this film as nothing more than preaching, but those willing to look beyond their own views, or those of the storyteller’s, will find an intriguing tale here.
A bigger budget might have allowed for the elimination of certain distractions such as make-up (Neal’s hair and beard never quite look right), and more elaboration relating to certain aspect of the story, such as the accident and subsequent legal matters that began Neale on his journey would have allowed the audience to relate and understand more at the start of the film.
It is certainly good to leave the audience wanting more, but that is different than leaving the audience wondering: “Why didn’t you show us that?” For example, one might wonder why, after becoming an on-air personality at a radio station, we never see or hear Neale doing the job. Actually, more than one might wonder that.
Recommendation: As with most films dealing with the topic of finding God, they tend to appeal more to the choir, as they are not edgy enough for those who most need to hear the song.
Out in very limited release; this may be a tough film to find until it comes out on DVD. Worth seeing in any format when you find it.