Based on the books by Neale Donald Walsh, the film opens with a tease. Homeless Neale sleeping in a tent is awakened by the voice of God (using Neale’s voice). Cut to successful Neale answering tough questions as the author of the best selling books “Conversations with God.”
It’s a gentle film with a leisurely pace, sometimes appropriately so; sometimes, somewhat just plain slow. The acting is pretty good. Henry Czerny, who plays Neale, pulls off this difficult part. After all, he has to be on screen nearly every second in addition to voiceover himself as God. And while the acting is as good as could be expected by the misc. public who are supposed to be asking spontaneous questions – these scenes still feel a tad staged. I’d like to have seen the filmmakers use a real audience asking real questions to the real Neale (shot from behind to conceal his face). Then have Henry Czerny voice over Neale’s answers.
Anyway, speaking of voiceovers. The voiceover God is a tad hokey. I’m not talking about the text, I’m talking about the technical choice to use the actor’s voice – but somehow more confident. Perhaps it was that confident sound that made it hokey. I can’t put my finger on it. Perhaps the filmmakers could have experimented a bit more for that.
As the film closes, the mother/child flashback is resolved. I really like the hands coming apart. Symbolically very powerful. I felt the film should have ended there, but it goes two steps further: 1) a double Neale, which is okay, 2) but then the voiceover God again. I just think the voiceover God is a weak technical element and shouldn’t have been used to end the film – unless they could have found a way to make it not so hokey.
All that said, this is definitely a solid B movie. I’m going to give it a B+ because it has good heart. I’m not saying everyone will buy into the dogma of this spirituality, I’m not sure I do. But, there is a definite need for all of us to take a deeper look into our souls – and this is one film that certainly challenges us to do just that.
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