7 August 2016 | A_Different_Drummer
There is an exchange of dialog in this film where Ewan McGregor's character asks another character in the story, "Why do you live in the desert?" and the answer comes back "Because the desert is ruthless ... it strips away all pretense ... it makes you see yourself for who you are."
Now, going into this film I was a little concerned that it was part of the New Wave of faith-based films. Don't get me wrong. I have reviewed several of those, and some are very well done. But what each faith-based film has in common is that it seems at first like a regular film ... and then gets a little odd. Not saying that is a bad thing. But it is odd.
This film starts with a certain tone and stays true to that tone for the entire run time. It never gets odd. For this reason I do not consider it a faith-based film but a true creative work that is is both brilliant and powerful.
The premise is simple -- can you focus on just a few days of one of the most inspirational figures in modern religion (fictionally)and, by the microcosm of those few days, achieve the flavor and the raw emotion of the entire life of that same character?
It is a daunting goal but I think McGregor and Garcia pull it off. To appreciate this film you need to start with no expectations and then get drawn into the film much the same way the central character allows himself to get drawn into the desert. Almost like a meditation, if you like.
In the right mindset this film is like the desert in the quote above. For a brief moment it allows you to see yourself for who you are.