Some Mormon movies tend to obnoxify me to the extreme, usually the silly satires of our culture. I’ll admit that I find myself giggling guiltily at some of the shameless fun-poking and clever-ishly placed allusions, but at the end of the experience, I generally feel bad if I liked it at all, because I know in my heart it was not really a high quality presentation. Christian Vuissa, however, director of The Errand of Angels, has stopped me up in my ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude and begun to reconvert me to the potential for great LDS cinema.
His newest film, One Good Man captures the largely untold story of Latter-Day daddyhood. He called it once a Bourne Identity for Mormons, because in the ordinary life of an LDS father, he is a hero dodging the bullets of life which in this film involve everything tumbling upon him at once from a daughter announcing her engagement, to pressures at work, to a son being called on a mission.
The film follows the life of Aaron Young, a father of six who is just trying to do what is right while he struggles to maintain a balance in the overwhelming and often complicated aspects of his daily life. Already struggling at work and striving for a healthy home, he gets called to be the bishop, heaping an additional and enormous responsibility to an already overworked and beleaguered life.
This film isn’t going to keep you on the edge of your seat; in fact it may be just the thing that gets you to lean back in your seat and just bask in its homey warmth. Though it stars Tim Threlfall and Pam Eichner as Aaron and Cindy Young, it boasts a full cast of delightful characters (the actors being both members and non-members) that accurately portray the hustle and bustle of a big Mormon family.
Vuissa never ceases to astound me with his ability to keep things real and genuine while paying the kind of attention to detail it takes to keep the audience [anxiously] engaged. The script, also compliments of Vuissa, is simple and organic while still maintaining a certain charm and authenticity that keeps you smiling when they smile and crying when they cry.
Of particular note in the cast was the supporting performance of Adam Johnson who plays one of Aaron’s non-member coworkers. He added a helping of humor and a missionary opportunity to the film that also gave us a chance to see our hero away from his family long enough to see his true colors, which turn out to be as golden as they are in the home.
I’ve never been married so I cannot with authority say that Vuissa accurately captures the quiet intimacy of nightly pillow talk, but he captures the whispered conversations I hope to someday have and in that way captures my heart. In one scene as the couple talks, the little head of their youngest son suddenly pops out of the covers, postponing their grown-up time indefinitely, as kids tend to do. I was that little head popping out of my parents’ covers for more years than I care to share, so in that way Vuissa captured my past and my hopes for the future.
One Good Man captures Mormonism in a way that neither puffs us up as a people nor tears us down; it shows life, as it is, with all of its bumps and bruises and occasional triumphs. Being the dramatic that I am, I have half a mind to throw it all away and live some foreign adventurous life of no responsibility somewhere exotic just for the sake of escape, but this film brought me back to earth and reminded me of what is good and whole and rewarding about this life and why it’s worth the choosing.
One Good Man will be released in select theatres on October 9.
For more information go to www.onegoodman.com
See the trailer here.