Earl Pilcher, Jr., runs an equipment rental outfit in Arkansas, lives with his wife and kids and parents, and rarely takes off his gimme cap. His mother dies, leaving a letter explaining ... See full summary »
James Earl Jones,
After being forced to sell his family ranch to developers, a financially strapped, but proud senior citizen, and his estranged grandson, find themselves targeted by drug dealers in search of a missing money bag.
Eulis 'Sonny' Dewey is a preacher from Texas living a happy life with his beautiful wife Jessie. Suddenly his stable world crumbles: Jessie is having an affair with young minister Horace. Sonny gets enraged and hits Horace with a softball bat, putting him into a coma. After that he leaves town, takes a new name, 'Apostle E.F.' and goes to Louisiana. There he starts to work as a mechanic for local radio station owner Elmo, and Elmo lets him preach on the radio. E.F. starts to preach everywhere: on the radio, on the streets, and with his new friend, Reverend Blackwell he starts a campaign to renovate an old church.Written by
In the bulldozer scene (Chapter 30), Troublemaker has stood up after praying. People are scattered around him. The shot changes immediately to where these same people are standing in a defined circle holding hands singing around him for a few seconds, then it reverts back to the first shot where the people are scattered around him. (1:47:02 through 1:47:16). See more »
This is a film with genuine heart and soul. It's got depth of characterization seldom found in Hollywood films. Robert Duvall gives a great performance as the sincere but flawed Pentecostal preacher, Sonny Dewey. After his marriage turns sour, followed by a spontaneous act of violence with a baseball bat, Sonny flees his home in Texas and ends up in the South Louisiana bayou country. Here, he changes his name to "The Apostle E.F." With the help of a local Black preacher, The Apostle starts a new church, called the "One Way Road To Heaven" Temple, a tiny wooden building out in the middle of nowhere.
As good as Duvall is in his performance, reinforced by a brilliant performance from Miranda Richardson in a support role, the film's non-actors, local people brought in to add authenticity to the setting, are even more convincing. No Central Casting actors could ever give the depth of characterization that these local people bring to the story. Sister Johnson, in her pink Sunday-go-to-meetin' outfit, and Sister Delilah are just terrific, as is Rick Dial, as Elmo, the local radio station host who gives The Apostle a chance to evangelize.
And whether he's preaching on radio or directly to a church congregation, The Apostle, with deep emotional conviction, shouts out his pronouncements using literal verbal imagery consistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible: "holy ghost preaching machine"; "a holy ghost explosion"; "we're going to short circuit the devil". The congregation sequences are largely improvisational, built on real emotion and feeling from real people; nothing canned here; remarkably genuine.
The film's weakness is the contrived plot that revolves around Sonny's marriage. His wife is played by Farrah Fawcett, a usually fine actress, who seems miscast here. In addition, some of the scenes, especially in the first half, could have been edited out.
You can't have a film about Pentecostal preaching without gospel music. And in "The Apostle", the hymns are old, traditional Bible-belt favorites: "I Love To Tell The Story", "Softly And Tenderly", and "I'll Fly Away". The film's subject matter, largely implied about death, the heartfelt hymns, and the film's lighting combine to render a general tone of sadness and depression, although laughter and joy find their ways into the story, as well.
Despite a hokey, contrived plot, "The Apostle" is mesmerizing in its authenticity of those in the American South who abide by the Pentecostal faith. Some viewers may find all the shouting and foot stomping off-putting. But it is genuine. In addition to being entertaining for the most part, the film will be a real eye opener for some viewers.
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