The Franklins are Bible belt Christians: Frank's a lawyer, Betty's a homemaker focused on her children and her church, Brian is a senior who plays football, his younger sister Caroline is a cheerleader who thinks she's fat, prays often, and is impatient with God. When the family is in a car crash, all but Caroline are in a coma during which they see Jesus who removes their inhibitions and their piety. Awake and refreshed, Frank, Betty, and Brian discover their sexuality, their independence from Sunday worship and formal prayer, and the ability to talk frankly. Caroline - and her godmother, Betty's best friend, Peggy - are horrified. Can Caroline be saved, and the Franklins forgiven?Written by
This film was made without a film crew, as evidenced by the end credits. See more »
Dear God, please give me the strength to be the servant that you want me to be, to be the beacon of light that you want representing you on this planet. Do you really want me to make a fool of myself? Is that who you want carrying your message, a fool? Well, is it? Just let me know what you want of me and I'll do it! Can you hear me, you asshole? I'm sorry, God. I'm sorry and I'm a little hungry. Show me, God, show me what to do and I'll do it, okay?
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As I've hopped from film to film at the SXSW Film Festival, this film from the opening night has stayed with me. Curious, because it is a dark comedy with quite an absurdist premise.
A family of hyper-stressed fundamentalists in a small community of like minds is changed by an auto accident. Three of the four have the same near-death experience in which they are fully opened, as each receives a reversal of the concept of original sin (I won't spoil this scene with the specifics). The fourth, a middle school cheerleader, is not just the only one physically hurt, but also is unchanged and is now witness to what has become her crazy, apparently spiritually bankrupt, family. Every new moment brings a new outrageousness as they have become innocently naked and frank in every way, horrifying her and then the community.
Forgiving the Franklins has the most beautiful sexual awaking scene between a husband and wife that I have ever seen, to the Sarah Brightman song "Deliver Me," a song that can now bring tears to my eyes.
The cast is terrific. Robertson Dean as the dad, Vince Pavia as the son and Aviva as the cheerleader daughter are excellent, Mari Blackwell plays Peggy, the mom's questioning neighbor and best friend perfectly, a much more nuanced, fleshed out, real character than what might have been (everyone in middle America knows a Peggy). And Theresa Willis positively glows as Betty, the mom. There are lots of risks taken by the actors playing the three changed characters, and these risks pay off.
I hope this film gets a wide release - if so, I plan to see it again.
Very accurate review at: http://www.fosteronfilm.com/phil/forgiving.htm
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