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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Overlong, but astonishing performances.

8/10
Author: Stanton_North
11 May 2004

Anglo-American co-production focusing on the Palmore family, each of whom has a crisis of faith: the father loses his congregation to a rival preacher and his faith in God; the mother reconsiders her marriage, and the son - a university lecturer - discovers that the philosophy to which he devoted his career is a Nazi sham. The inter-connecting stories each have some extremely powerful moments (Christ appearing to Warner; an extremely eerie confrontation between Maloney and Pleasence), but generally feel plodding; interfering with the main story-line of the Palmore daughter in LA.

Jodhi May plays a member of the Mercy Mission of Divine Revelation, kidnapped by "exit counsellor" James Earl Jones (in her mother's employ), who slowly tries to reverse-brainwash her. May initially hallucinates that he is Satan, but quickly proves herself an extremely quick-witted woman who angrily battles him point by point in logical debate, before collapsing under the emotional strain.

Under chase from the FBI, the American section is fast-paced and nail-biting; scenes between May and Earl Jones are terrifying. May's relationship with her mother is extremely emotionally affecting (such as the scene where she first hugs her then, distraught, beats her, declaring "You're nothing to me") - and the whole series should be watched for Jodhi May's peerless performance. If only it had been a two-hour film focusing on the one plot, however; the writer's only flaw is trying to build up suspense by frequently inserting slow, dull scenes about the Palmore men.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Thoughtful and Unique Drama

Author: d_sakaki from Seattle, Washington
22 July 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Some spoilers; just trying to describe the movie)

This was a telefilm produced by both the US and the UK and shown on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre. It's really like watching several seemingly different stories unfold, and the satisfaction of seeing them all tie into one another. It's a patient story, so I don't want to say it's "slow" or "boring" but I advise people to really let the film set its own pace, reveal its complex characters and the bigger story of what faith means to a person. It's not a religious story, but it shows multiple views of personal faith: the conflict between a logic-minded son and his father who is a church leader; the effect on Christianity and strict parenting which alienates a daughter and allows her to be vulnerable to a mysterious cult. It also touches on the secular blind faith behind historical institutions -- how our own histories are like Biblical passages, unwilling to be rewritten or reconsidered. I was really impressed by this story. It left more questions than answers, and that's what made it so compelling and unforgettable. The story picks up the pace when James Earl Jones' character, a de-programmer, is hired by the mother of the family who lost their daughter to the strange doomsday cult. In order to get her back, they essentially have to kidnap her and brainwash her again to get her back to normal, a process that is intentionally uneasy, meant to make you think cult de-programming is no different than cult re-programming. But don't get me wrong -- this in no way sanctifies cults in any way. To loosely quote a character from the movie: there are signs and wonders everywhere -- it simply depends on what you want see.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The story of my life, only worse

10/10
Author: Crispin from Portland, Oregon
8 September 2002

this is a good story about cults, how they really are and what it it like to leave one. it is also the best role of james earl jones i think other than darth vader or thulsa doom. the story has particular significance for me as i left a cult type of thing right before i watched it on public broadcasting. i could relate, plus the lead actress whatever her name is way cool.

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