FROM my experiences I know every person treats religion differently. I also am aware of the differences between someone who is religious compared to a person who is spiritual. Some years ago I knew a man who went to temple every day to pray. He followed his religion’s customs and traditions fully, handing them down to his children. The interesting thing was after he died his wife stopped following the rituals; not totally but she became more relaxed about the structure shall we say. I know another person who partakes in all the customs of her religion, but her actions are not of a religious person. Just because you attend services and donate money to charity does not automatically make one religious. In other words you have to practice what you preach. This person discriminates against a variety of minorities; I am talking blatantly speaks out against them. I just sit and wonder how they can justify their actions based on how much they talk about their religious participation. THOUGH I understand the circumstances were devastating for the individual I still find it curious when they suddenly become religious. I have experienced this myself on some level at a time when I felt there was no hope of me coming out unscathed. It took place one of the times I was being chased by a group of bullies after school. Hiding behind a couple of garbage cans on the back porch of an apartment building, I could hear them below me. They must have been looking up at the porches of the 4 storied building before running up the stairs to only check on the top floor they could not fully see from the alley. I remember praying to God to keep me hidden from them until they came down the stairway and were long gone. Due to this experience I have gained insight or maybe it is sensitivity to the actions taken by someone experiencing tragedy, like the family in this inspirational fantasy drama. DEEP into depression from a tragic event Mack Phillips, played by Sam Worthington (Clash of the Titans franchise, Avatar), one day received a letter in his box without a postmark. It was from someone he stopped believing in. Based on the bestselling book this fantasy movie also starred Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Help) as Papa, Radha Mitchell (Man on Fire, Looking for Grace) as Nan Phillips and Tim McGraw (The Blind Side, Country Strong) as Willie. I appreciated the idea behind this film’s story and felt the cast was certainly capable to bring the story to life. My issue lies with the director; the pacing was slow to the point I felt the story was dragging. Add in the script being stacked in favor of manipulating the viewers’ emotions to shed tears, I did not find this a pleasant movie watching experience. If the story would have been told in a more even handed way, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions, I feel the film would have been better all around. Sitting next to me through this picture were a couple of friends who are more religious than me. Asking them what they thought, they felt the same way I did about the movie. The story was a sad one that did not give them a sense of comfort due to the poor writing and direction.
2 ¼ stars
Currently there is nothing built strong enough to contain one’s feelings. No matter where they get buried or stuffed, feelings always find a way to get out. Some people use food as a way to keep their feelings at bay; others utilize drugs or alcohol to try and numb the emotions bubbling inside of them. I admit there was a time where I would take my feelings and hide them deep inside of me, where no one could ever find them. They were stored in my heart, where the door was sealed by hatred. To show my true feelings was something I associated with getting hurt. It took a lot of work to realize it was okay to express how I felt; that no one had the right to judge another person’s feelings. When this DVD arrived at my home this week I chuckled since my two previous reviews had to do with the music world and now there was going to be another review of a musical film. In actuality, music played a minor role in this story. Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man franchise, Contagion) played country music star Kelly Canter. Pulled out of rehab early for a concert tour by her manager/husband James, played by Tim McGraw (The Blind Side, The Kingdom); Kelly’s sponsor Beau Hutten, played by Garrett Hedlund (Troy, Four Brothers), locked horns with James. He was concerned the pressure would be too much for Kelly to handle, in her vulnerable condition. I am not a big fan of country music, but I enjoyed the songs in this dramatic film. The surprise came from Garrett and Leightom Meester (Monte Carlo, Gossip Girl-TV) as former beauty queen Chiles Stanton. They were terrific playing two singers trying to break into the music business. Though the acting was solid with everyone, they did not have much help from the cliche ridden script. It was easy to spot each turn of events which did not allow any room for one to be surprised. If you are a fan of country music, you might enjoy seeing this film. For everyone else there is the chance you will become bored. At least that is how I felt about it.
2 stars — DVD