Director: Stuart Hazeldine
Based on the titular novel by William P. Young that's was a No.1 Paperback Trade Fiction on New York Times best seller list for nearly two years. It's a story of faithless father who suffers a great loss and is invited to the shack by possibly God h'self. What interesting is this was a literally vessel originally written for his six children alone that outlined his interpretation of God. Coming from bankruptcy, he was requested to writer such a thing by his wife and was then convinced by friends who had read it to publish for the general public.
Sam Worthington gives a strong performance as Mack, the family man who is already harbouring a heavy burden before a family tragedy strikes, but he flakes in certain parts, or it could the pace of the film, as we watch Mack seesaw through his emotions. Country singer Tim McGraw isn't terrible but he feels out of place, almost to the level I was suspecting something of his character. It was either his performance didn't match his character, or the character wasn't given the development he actually needed.
Spencer gives a performance that reminded me very of The Matrix's oracle(s) being benevolent and constantly talking in riddles in hoping Mack will eventually understand or come to terms with his feelings. There's quite a conflict of emotion between the characters, though it's not in an argumentative way. More so Worthington displaying his anger, sorrow and disappointment up against the spirit's caring, forgiving and loving attitude. Whilst it not being necessarily messy, and obviously representing polar emotions, it fails to really get the impact the story probably deserves.
I was impressed with, and enjoy Hazeldine's Exam, which was his main feature debut and this being his second. There's some lovely shots and is overall, a great visualisation though there's nothing that's outstanding that's warrants awe. Aaron Zigman does his usual good, smoothing score that fits the story's mood but it lacks any real theme and is quickly forgettable.
There's a selection for the soundtrack with tracks from Skillet, Lady Antebellum, NEEDTOBREATHE, We Are Messengers and of course Tim McGraw, however it would suit a romantic drama as oppose to this which, whilst liking the songs, I feel it distracts from the magic of the story.
It's a strange representation of God that's supposedly Christian orientated and though it's highly popular with many of the Christian faith, some have disagreed and even branded Young a heretic. Whilst it's unclear whether Young is a devout man of faith or not, or if he has drawn this from his own personal experience; what is clear is that he has a passion and possibly an understanding for something spiritual, holy and inner-healing.
Not having been through that tragic bereavement maybe thankfully, nor being a parent, it's not fair for me to comment on how I would feel being in such a sad situation. However, I feel this notion of forgiveness might be too far for some people to understand or even reach, and might even be insulting to some. Of course, we all deal with grief in our own way but this is to an extreme. Parts of the film are quite upsetting, harrowing even, but what happens after sadly lacks heart and as oppose to feeling more empathy for the characters, I kept thinking about how I would react and possibly behave.
It's a modern fable with a decent and meaningful message, but I find it hard to believe due to the actually loss, versus the conclusion. However it is thought provoking, it's just that each of us will of course, react very differently to the ending, and possibly the story's premise as a whole.
Running Time: 5
The Cast: 5
Job Description: 2
The Extra Bonus Point: 0