All Saints (PG)

In a Word: Uplifting

All Saints

Nelson Lee plays Le Win (left) and John Corbett plays Rev Michael Scurlock.

 

"It's a beautiful, sometimes humorous, depiction of what happens when we allow God to move in our midst; of holding onto faith despite the obstacles that may appear in our path, and of accepting the path God has prepared for us."

This little gem of a film tells the true story of how a declining church - All Saints Episcopal (Anglican) Church in the town of Smyrna, Tennessee - came to have have new life breathed into it as God performed a wonderful, albeit at times frustrating and even demoralising but always purposeful, work in its midst.

John Corbett plays Rev Michael Spurlock, the paper salesman turned first-time minister charged with easing out the now tiny congregation of the church as the buildings and grounds are sold off to pay the church's $US850,000 mortgage. He's a bit of an odd fit, having moved with his wife Aimee (Cara Buono) and son Atticus (Myles Moore) from the fast paced New York City to this farming community but it's his business skills the church is looking for here.

Michael, however, sees himself primarily as a pastor and so, as well as caring for the remnants of the congregation, when a group of Karen refugees from conflict-torn Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, start attending the church, he's immediately stirred to help them.

Rev Spurlock is out in the fields surrounding his church one day when, during a rainstorm, he senses God speaking to him, telling him to "do the math" and put these farming folk - led by led by Ye Win (Nelson Lee) - and the empty fields around the church to good use. If they can raise a sizeable enough crop, he reasons, not only can they save the church from being sold, they can also feed the Karen families.

But first he has to get the bishop, played by Gregory Alan Williams, and his council on board (no easy task) and then convince the congregation (which turns out to be surprisingly easy with the exception of local farmer Forrest (Barry Corbin), who starts off being something of an 'old crank' but who plays an integral part in the story to come). And, of course, seek God over whether this is nothing more than an 'ego trip' for himself.

The story doesn't quite turn out as you may expect - after all this is a true story - but along the way we're treated to a warm-hearted, sincere account of how a church (the people, not the building) was created and the ripples it had right across the community in which it was based.

This is a small scale story but at no point does director Steve Gomer allow it to drag, descend into hokeyness or become a sermon (a fact which is helped by the casting). Yet, make no mistake - God is front and centre in this film, a beautiful, sometimes humorous, depiction of what happens when we allow Him to move in our midst; a story of holding onto faith despite the obstacles that may appear in our path, and of accepting the path the He has prepared for us.

Chances are it won't be on the big screen for long (this is no 'blockbuster') but it's certainly well worth taking the time out to see. A great example of what faith on film can look like.