The Apostle

A mission of mine is to alert people to what I call honest Christian fiction, which of course can include film and even some television as well as books. Should you care to know why I think this mission is worth the effort, please read my review of Tender Mercies.

Robert Duvall is the living actor I most admire. I always find him convincing, in a remarkable variety of roles such as mob lawyer in The Godfather, crazed army officer in Apocalypse Now, tyrannical father in The Great Santini, country singer in Tender Mercies, and zealot preacher in The Apostle, in which he not only starred but also wrote and directed.

As evidence that I’m not the only fan of The Apostle, I offer the opinion of critic Roger Ebert, who gave the film four out of four stars and called it “a lesson in how movies can escape from convention and penetrate the hearts of rare characters.”

Though Sonny is certainly a rare character, charismatic evangelist, devoted father, loving husband, and sometime womanizer, he also can be seen as a type we encounter in the news and scandal sheets. The very passion that drives his calling also delivers his downfall.

I wonder if Mr. Duvall also recruited the cast, which includes Farah Fawcett, June Carter Cash, and Billy Bob Thornton. All of them, and the dozens Sonny draws — not so much to his message (which, in my mind is the film’s one weakness) but to himself — would be bound for glory if I were the judge.

But then, I’m more a follower of Dostoyevski than of Calvin.

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