Of Gods and Men | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Of Gods and Men 

Of Gods and Men is a case study for all of the things a committed community of believers can do right.

Pin It
Favorite
art13641widea.jpg
Let’s face it: Film rarely seems terribly concerned about matters of religious faith. Apparently scared away from any content that might possibly give offense, filmmakers leave an enormous chunk of the human experience relatively unexplored. All of which makes Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men even more powerful. Not only does it take on the question of what people of faith are called to do, it does so with cinematic artistry.

The fact-based story is set in 1996 at a Catholic Trappist monastery in rural Algeria. The eight brothers, led by Brother Christian (Lambert Wilson), live a simple life, serving the nearby village by operating a medical clinic. But the monastery soon becomes a philosophical battleground as Islamic fundamentalists begin terrorizing the area. Should they stay and risk their lives in order to continue their mission?

In effect, that question makes up the film’s central conflict, and Beauvois has no problem taking his time with the process of answering it. But the leisurely pacing allows time for the brothers to explore their calling not just through explicit dialogue, but through the hymns and scriptures that make up their daily lives. It builds to one of the most improbably emotional cinematic moments of the year, as Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake provides not just dramatic underscore but a recognition that the joys of this world are none too easy to give up, even for the noblest of causes.

Beauvois is perhaps a bit too pointed about making sure we understand that the terrorist rebels are in contrast to the Islamic Algerian villagers living their own faith in a much more moderate way. Yet he’s skillful at showing how Algerian government officials scoff at the brothers’ nonjudgmental embrace of all humanity. In a time when it’s too easy to consider fervor dangerous, here’s a case study for all of the things a committed community of believers can do right.

OF GODS AND MEN

3_5_stars.gif

Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale
Rated R

Pin It
Favorite

More by Scott Renshaw

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Houses Divided

    Two new films highlight a politically fractured America.
    • Oct 17, 2018
  • Giant Leap

    Neil Armstrong's private world drives the biopic First Man.
    • Oct 10, 2018
  • Everything Old Is New Again

    A fresh take on A Star Is Born both elevates and hinders it.
    • Oct 3, 2018
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Kid Stuff

    A lovely child performance anchors the satisfying family drama of Gifted.
    • Apr 12, 2017
  • If You're Going to San Francisco

    Fifty years on, Monterey Pop captures something that was more than a musical moment.
    • Jun 14, 2017

© 2018 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation