Life as a Mormon missionary isn't what 19-year-old Brandon Allen expected: so many rules and so few successes. Los Angeles is as unrepentant as Sodom and Gomorrah. He's forced to share a ... See full summary »
Matthew A. Brown,
When Jonathan Jordan gets divorced he's thrust back into the world of being a single Mormon - a world who's ultimate goal is eternal marriage. Struggling to fit in, Jonathan decides to stop... See full summary »
Two pairs of Mormon missionaries from America live in a beaten-up apartment in the Dutch city of Haarlem. Their personalities are distinctly different. Appropriately, the most responsible ... See full summary »
Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration focuses on some of the events during the life of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, which was both filmed and distributed ... See full summary »
When the young woman Emma Carillo is stabbed five times, paramedic Marcus Galan feels a great empathy for her and unsuccessfully tries to save her life in the Mercy Hospital. Meanwhile the ... See full summary »
Recently moved to upstate New York from the comfort of their Vermont homestead, the Benjamin Steed family makes their way into the established social structure of Palmyra. In their attempt ... See full summary »
In November of 1833, the state of Missouri turned a blind eye as hundreds of its peaceful inhabitants were hunted down and driven from their homes in the dead of night. Against this ... See full summary »
Although Elder Farrell and Elder Lozano are assigned together as Mormon missionary companions they are a study in contrasts. Farrell, from Utah, is bookish, sensitive, focused on seeking potential converts, and dedicated to following mission rules. Elder Lozano was shot by a rival gang when being initiated into the Latino gang of his brothers and then was converted to the LDS church while recovering at the same time as a missionary in the hospital. Due to go home in three weeks, he shows more interest in playing basketball than teaching people. One day while going door to door in Venice, California they find themselves caught in crossfire as a Latino gang does a drive-by shooting. Lozano renders aid to Carl, an African American gang member who is seriously wounded. Upon recovery, Carl thanks him and becomes interested in learning about what the missionary has to teach about redemption. Returning home, the elders find an ill man lying on the street and take him back to their apartment.... Written by
In Carl's interview, Elder Banks quotes Alma chapters 22-24 from the Book of Mormon, in a specific doctrinal point exclusive to the Mormons: Someone can receive forgiveness since he/she had no idea he/she was committing a serious sin, such as murder, but only if the person receives the gospel with a commitment of dedicate his/her life to Christ, even if that means to die for Him. See more »
[the elders are playing basketball on "P" day. Speaking to Elder Farrell]
Come on. Get in here man, we're getting our butts kicked.
[Elder Farrell shakes his head negatively]
Come on Farrell, we're one man short.
I'll do it.
I said, we're one MAN short.
You're one short man, that's what you are.
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Mormon film to this point has been mainly "Mormon", but flightily "film". While some pictures have had strong points, for example, the subtle humor in "Napoleon Dynamite" or action in "Saint and Soldiers", most of the genre has been self-absorbed and self-serving. Even Dutcher's previous "God's Army" was aimed specifically for a Mormon audience and did not have any lofty design or style.
The self-proclaimed "Father of Mormon Cinema" has here created a film that could be accessible to a wide audience and should be better received. The characters are again missionaries, but share little similarities to the characters in "God's Army." The fact that it is already disappearing from theaters is due to poor marketing and advertising, and does not reflect the quality of the film.
Finally a Mormon character faces some real problems and really struggles. Finally Mormon characters make real mistakes and have to pay real repentance. Finally a Mormon story involves real non-Mormon characters and views them not as the oddity, but real people in the real world. And finally, Dutcher has a real vision and real message and actually directs this picture like no one has dared in the genre.
The acting in the film is miles above anything yet seen in Mormon film, as is the direction. Moments between Lozano and Carl, or any moment with the street preacher Louis feel honest and natural. The "gangstas" (as the ads so poorly state) seem real, not like your Mormon high school production or road-show. Even the character of Farrell, who was initially the weakest link in the film, shows his true colors by the end. Dutcher constantly alludes to action in his story and composition, and he creates some amazing pictures, showing that he may be the least accessible person off camera, but he is the most capable director of the genre yet. Carl's confirmation scene, while paying homage to "The Godfather", is amazing in its own right. The story occasionally bordered on cliché, but Dutcher never let it go that route, instead opting for some really difficult decisions for his characters.
I know that many Mormons will not want to see this movie because it has characters that have or will make mistakes. It has some uncomfortable situations and asks some tough questions. What they should realize, however, is that this is the first "Mormon film" that actually has something to say. Instead of laughing at ourselves and our Jello molds, why not show situations that really happen? Why not dare to put ourselves in the shoes of our fellow men? Why not realize that we are but one religion among many, all of which bring goodness into the world? Why not join others in their everyday struggles and know that we are not alone in this world? This film is the first to ask these questions and most successfully answer them. "States of Grace" is not the best film I have ever seen, but it is the best "Mormon film" I have yet seen and is among the best of this year. Open-minded, open-hearted, open-souled viewers everywhere should watch this movie. It may change how you look at things.
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