This movie is far better than your typical Bible or 'faith-based' movie; I admittedly had some low expectations going in to see it and was very surprised by a quality film with a beautiful message. Not for one second did I feel that this was preachy or 'Bible-beating'... it was more pure and authentic and humanist.
The acting is top notch, with Jim Caviezel, Faulkner, and Olivier Martinez really giving some nuanced and layered performances. Nobody phoned in their roles, you could sense a level of passion and commitment to the story. The music was also excellent, a gorgeous score that was paired with some nice cinematography and production design. The movie looked good and sounded, but importantly - it felt good.
Lots of films in the devotional genre tend to end up being mere dramatic recreations of the gospels, but this one, while delivering authenticity, was not as concerned with delivering a 'live-action experience of the Bible' so much as striving to express the true message of Paul. That message, the one that is basically Christ's Sermon on the Mount, is the crux of the film. This gives it an emotional heft that is quite poignant. I wasn't so moved by the characters' actions and the story in so much as what they were feeling in their hearts and what they were expressing.
Dammit this movie hit me right in the feels and I already know it will linger with me for days. That is a good sign that I just participated in some human art.
Won't win any Oscars, and sadly probably won't light up the box office but this is a fine and beautiful movie with an important and relevant message for the world today.
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