This Review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser
Written & Directed by Rosalind Ross
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Jacki Weaver
CALLING ALL CATHOLICS…this one’s FOR YOU!
This true story, based on the real life of Boxer, turned Actor, turned Priest Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg), this film has plenty to cheer about for any good Catholic out there, as this story is based on the many teachings and strong faith of this religious sector of our Society. Having switched from UCC to Catholicism in my own adult life, this film spoke to me for days, as the strength of the Catholic faith which has always pulled at my heart my entire life, was resonating throughout every inch of this film.
But, with that said, if you haven’t been exposed to Catholicism, and it’s devout culture, I’m not sure that this film is going to be able to resonate, as you might hope it would. This is by no means discounting your own personal beliefs, or religious background, I am just stating that unless you have studied or have been raised in Catholicism, this one might be pretty far-fetched at many poignant moments throughout, as Stuart choices the grace of God, and his teachings, instead of marrying the beautiful Carmen (Teresa Ruiz) even though she leaves her mark on Stuart’s heart, and the screen, while you watch their relationship evolve.
And while this true story unfolds amidst the contriversies that seem to plague the Catholic Faith constantly, you also feel it’s strength too, as it calls Stuart to serve.
I also must share that unlike many in Hollywood, I very much enjoy Mel Gibson’s work as both an Actor and Director, and his performance here, although not big, is an integral part of this storyline. But, I do question Mark Wahlberg’s decision to bring Gibson into this very Catholic film, as Gibson’s anti-semitic rhetoric over the years, may etch a distasteful ora over this film from his casting. Although, for many who know of Gibson’s staunch conservativeness in the Catholic faith, and his latin mass ritual, this casting may lean in the opposite direction, yielding to a feeling that there is no one better to play the distant, and stoic Father, in Stuart’s life.
Jacki Weaver on the other hand is truly heaven sent for this film, playing Stuart’s mother, and confidant, wanting nothing more than for her son to be happy…although in typical motherly fashion, ending up questioning his motives for his life, every step of the way.
For me personally, Father Stu resonated thoroughly as you watch Stuart live out his life in duty to God, even with the unyielding torment that he must endure later in life. I also enjoyed seeing his family and friends rally behind his choice to live his life as he saw fit, even as they each questioned his determination and drive towards the priesthood, at some point too.
Father Stu is a very moving film, that some of you will love, and some of you will just sit through, so know going in that when it was all said and done for me, I could only give it a rating of 3 out of 5, even though as a Catholic, I felt that just out of principal I should have given it a better rating. But alas, the critic in me just couldn’t send my friends, family or my followers here to catch this one, if you just aren’t drawn by the trailer to see what it’s all about…