All Saints

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December 31, 2017
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All Saints
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The inspiring true story of how a group of refugees from Burma brought life and purpose to a struggling church. After trading in his corporate sales career to become a pastor, Michael's first assignment is All Saints, a quaint country church with a dozen members. It comes with a catch: he has to close the church doors for good and sell the prime piece of land on which it sits.

While developers eagerly eye the property and the congregation mourns the inevitable, Michael and his family look forward to moving on to an established church where they can put down roots. But when the church hesitantly begins welcoming Karen refugees from Burma-former farmers striving for a fresh start in America-Michael feels called to an improbable new mission.

Toiling alongside the Karen people, the congregation attempts to turn their fertile land into a working farm to pay the church's bills and feed its newest people. Jeopardising his family's future by ignoring his superiors, Michael must choose between completing what he was assigned to do-close the church and sell the property-or listening to a still, small voice challenging the people of All Saints to risk it all and provide much-needed hope to their new community.

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All Saints
Overall rating 
 
8.4
Acting 
 
9.0
Script 
 
7.0
Direction / Production / SFX 
 
8.0
Theme 
 
10.0
Personal Rating 
 
8.0

When your first call as a newly ordained Pastor in the Episcopalian church is to close a church down what do you do? For Michael Spurlock the answer was initially to do what he was asked to do, but as he starts to get to know the remaining congregation he realises that this is about a whole lot more than selling a building on prime real estate. There is just no chance that this could be turned around by him on his first placement as a pastor, that is until the Karen refugee's arrive from Burma needing to find shelter and work. Standing in the rain with the weight of the world on his shoulders Michael feels that God has spoken to him, and there might be a way to save the church after all!

This film is based on a true story and the biographical book of the same title written by Michael Spurlock himself, which gives this a grounding in reality, more than recent films like "God's Not Dead" and some of those apologetic films with a strong Christian agenda. This film has a very light touch on the faith side, despite being based in a church and the main character being a Pastor, there is no big preach. Rather this is about the group of people who come together to make this a community, what the church at it's best should be.

The director, Steve Gomer, manages to move this story along at a reasonable pace and does get some great scenes in, and there is some very real heartbreak. Part way through the film there is a moment when Pastor Michael realises how much Ye Win has taken on looking after his people and helping them with money as well as trying to make sure that they all have what they need. As Pastor Michael discusses the situation he talks about Ye Win's wife, and he tells him she has left some time ago and he didn't tell Michael! Not only has Ye Win taken on a lot, but he doesn't feel like he can confide in his Pastor.

The role of Michael Spurlock is played brilliantly by John Corbett, and he walks the line between confident minister and self-doubting despair, often occupying the middle ground of wondering if he really did hear from God, or if it is actually some kind of ego-trip to save the church. When you see the real pictures of Michael Spurlock there isn't a huge resemblance, but I think he has carried this part very well. They have grounded this film in the reality of the story by actually using the church at All Saints in Tennessee which was where the story really happened.

In reality this is an old-style feel-good movie which just happens to have that faith-based element, the emotional twists and turns are there and it's moving enough that you go through some of the heartache with the characters. There are great performances by both Nelson Lee playing Ye Win and Barry Corbin playing a brilliantly curmudgeonly Forrest, who is a retired farmer and a widower who suspects that Michael is a bit of a charlatan just looking to either sell the church or get himself a promotion and accolades by saving the church.

This feels real and is a great and enjoyable story, it would be a great film to show in churches, but unfortunately rights to show this film are not covered under the CVLI, so be careful that if you do choose to show it, you get the correct permissions! Highly recommended film for home viewing and a nice change to the overly preachy films that often appear on DVD from the Christian studios.

RA

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