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Criticism of ‘The Miracle of Father Stu’, the true story of the boxing priest

Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson lead the cast of this story of redemption.

Although production companies such as Pinnacle Peak Pictures or Provident Films continue in the breach with paraterrorist perseverance and determination, to the greater glory of stars such as Melissa Joan Hart, Greg Kinnear or Kirk Cameron, the truth is that religious films, or films about religion, are more than ever forced, for better or worse, to take the place of a footnote in a divided, disenchanted and postmodern world. For this reason it is necessary to greet with a smile and a nod the arrival of films like Tammy Faye’s eyes (Michael Showalter, 2021) or this The Miracle of Father Stu that, without becoming didactic and doctrinal approaches to the phenomenon, avoid falling into easy, tendentious, vulgar and, to a large extent, soporific criticism of Christianity, sometimes even more hysterical than that of the faithful themselves. In their brave intention to go further, both works use faith as a narrative and destabilizing element, focused on its uncontrollable and supernatural component, carrying out a complicated task of ideological tightrope walking, in an America of constant shadows and unattended prayers that will always be in need. of myths, miracles, sentences and gods. Although the latter end up, more often than not, becoming characteristic characters of folklore and popular culture as frivolous as it is inevitably iconoclastic.

Father Long’s Candor

Rosalind Ross, partner of the director of Passion of Christ (Mel Gibson, 1994), for whom he reserves a revealing and perhaps somewhat artificially stretched role, he makes a solid film debut, endowed with containment and expository elegance, especially considering the delicate nature of the materials he handles. His greatest virtue consists of a tone that manages to catch both fervent Catholics and fundamentalist atheists on the wrong foot. In this complicated balance, the work of Mark Wahlberg, always appropriate and energetic, who seems like a Dirk Diggler lookalike who, in a parallel multiverse, would have found his vocation in the Church rather than in the porn industry, plays in favor of this complicated balance. But it also helps the peculiar approach to biopic from the script by Ross herself, very much in line, especially in its first half, with the stories by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski about contemporary icons as different as Ed Wood, Larry Flynt, Andy Kaufman or Rudy Ray Moore. He tells the film with a hidden humor and a sociological fascination for the secret America and the figure of the lose with a lovely point redneck that, without looking over their shoulders at their characters or caricaturing their peculiar odysseys, always keep it away from ridicule, even in its most unexpected narrative turns, not because they are real, less delirious. Supported by an intimate, everyday, almost voyeuristic tone that avoids the majesty and historicist itch of the cardinal (Preminger, 1963) or The fisherman’s sandals (Anderson, 1968); closer, perhaps without looking for it, in his chronicle of the birth of faith, to Nazarin (Buñuel, 1959) than jungle path (Mulligan, 1962), halfway between GK Chesterton and Sean Baker, Ross has debuted with a crazy film, stimulating in each of its imperfections, provocative to the point of discomfort, unclassifiable as pure slippery and, in more ways than one, admirable. .

For devoted flâneuses of the wonderful North America.

The best: His unexpected and bizarre sense of humor… and Mark Wahlberg.

The worst: some of its turns are too sharp.

DATA SHEET

Direction: rosalind ross Distribution: Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Jacki Weaver, Teresa Ruiz, Annet Mahendru, Winter Ave Zoli, Ronnie Gene Blevins Original title: Father Stu Country: USA Year: 2022 Release date: 13–05-2022 Gender: Drama Film script: rosalind ross Duration: 124 minutes

Synopsis: When an injury ends his career as an amateur boxer, Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg) moves to Los Angeles with dreams of being an actor. While fending for himself as a supermarket clerk, he meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz), a Catholic Sunday school teacher who seems immune to his bad boy looks. Determined to win her over, the lifelong agnostic starts going to church to impress her. But after surviving a horrific motorcycle accident he begins to question if he can give his life a second chance by helping others find his way, leading him to realize that he is destined to be a Catholic priest. Despite a devastating health crisis and skepticism from Church members and his estranged parents (Mel Gibson and Jacki Weaver), Stu pursues his calling with courage and compassion, inspiring not only those closest to him, but to many others with whom he crosses the road.

Source: Fotogramas

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