Every day, the average person finds themselves working to do the right things. Whether this be for others, themselves or in other places, it feels good to do them. It brings closure and gratification to the doer knowing that someone else will feel good too. But in life, not every waking moment is filled with joy and happiness. Sadness and tragedy is also a part of this cycle and sometimes it happens to people who are not deserving of such horrible acts. For those who believe in a higher power, this becomes quite the challenge for the religious. So many questions begin to flood the individuals mind asking why and how come. The problem is, the more one thinks about it, the more consumed they can become. This is similar to what happens here.
|"Why am I back here again....."|
The plot is about Mack Phillips (Sam Worthington), a loving husband and father of three children. One weekend in the summer he goes on vacation with his family, only to not pay attention during a certain moment to have his youngest daughter Missy (Amélie Eve) kidnapped. Sadly when she is found in shack, the worst of his nightmares came true. Sometime later, he receives a mysterious letter inviting him back to the shack. Wanting to take matters into his own hands, he sets off. When he arrives, he realizes he's come to meet God and thus begins his journey of self enlightenment. Based on the book written by William P. Young, the script adapted by John Fusco, Andrew Lanham and Destin Daniel Cretton makes good use of its character development on Mack. The direction was headed by Stuart Hazeldine, who had only lead Exam (2009), which was more of a thriller. For this he does a decent job.
Throughout the running time, Mack goes through many ups and downs while talking with his creator. Questions that many ordinary people would ask themselves too. Why must bad things happen to innocent people? What was the point? Why do bad people get away with good things? As time passes Mack begins to learn the answers to his questions and realizes certain things he never thought were possible. He also discovers things about himself and how that affects his wife Nan (Radha Mitchell), his son Josh (Gage Munroe) and daughter Kate (Megan Charpentier). How Mack interacts with the higher entity is also done in a unique way. Instead of just having God present himself as an all powerful being, he gets split into four different people. Octavia Spencer plays papa, the nickname Mack gave his god, Avraham Aviv Alush plays Jesus and Sumire is Sarayu. These three more or less are a reflection of Christianity's holy trinity. Then there's Alice Braga who is the personification of Wisdom and also has lesson to teach.
There's even an appearance from Graham Greene as another character portrayal of papa when Mack hits an even harder roadblock. Tim McGraw is also cast as one of Mack's closest friends. For all the actors involved, they all perform very well. For those who believe in a higher power, this film may even give insight to those who wonder themselves. The emotion looks authentic and the feeling of loss is relatable. If anything, Sam Worthington still can't seem to get rid of his English accent every now and then. He's convincing most of the time, but every so often his original accent slips out. However even with all these positives, the film still has moments that are off putting. For one, the idea that God is always happy and believes even he does no wrong. It seems almost too sure of oneself. Almost arrogant sounding and in some scenes. It just doesn't sound right.
The other problem is expected Christian movie clichés. Some are just so blatantly foreshadowed, it can be quite obnoxious. It's understandable that something's are supposed to be emotional and heartfelt, but then there are points where it begs the question why must a story always try to lead it's audience to a sense of false security. Just stop it already. Aside from this though, the music and camerawork were well executed for this production. Declan Quinn as the cinematographer to this movie had a number of captivating scenes that had beautiful scenery. Having experience in other coming of age movies like This Is My Father (1998), In America (2002) and Ricki and the Flash (2015), Quinn has an eye for getting the right shot. Areas like the shack, where Mack meets God or even being at home is visually pleasing. The music is also on the same level with Aaron Zigman composing the score. Utilizing as much piano as possible, many of the key strokes used are grounded and touching. Since this isn't really a franchise it's not expected to have a main theme really.
Points Earned --> 7:10