A Matter of Faith

A film review by Chet Tan, library volunteer

Director: Kevan Otto
– Production Company: Silver Lining Entertainment

Not to be confused with Rich Christiano’s “A Matter of Faith” (2014), Kevan Otto’s “A Question of Faith” (2017) tells a poignant story of how so much hurt, anger, and pain can flower into so much faith, love, and forgiveness.

This film follows the trials of Pastor David Newman (Richard T. Jones), as his family is beset with a terrible tragedy. However, rather than get a chance to move on, David and his family find themselves face to face with the Danielson and Hernandez families, whose lives are inextricably linked to that same terrible loss that has befallen the Newmans. These encounters force the protagonists to wrestle with age-old questions about God’s plan, goodness, and forgiveness in the face of tragedy.

This is no doubt a Christian film, with a sound Bible-based central message emphasizing putting one’s faith in God, even when life gives you every reason not to. However, the propriety of what David does later in the film could be subject to interpretation, if not some debate. (Those who want to avoid spoilers should skip the next paragraph.)

Specifically, during the final scene when David is preaching, he actually calls Maria Hernandez (Karen Valero) to the front of his church and proceeds to “out” her in front of his congregation as the person responsible for his family’s loss. Ostensibly, it can be surmised that David did this to give Maria a chance to ask for forgiveness, and Maria seems to be onboard with this. Still, one cannot help wondering whether this whole exercise could have been handled more discreetly (Matthew 6:1-4). Doing all of this in public may have given David an opportunity to showcase his magnanimity, but it also comes across as a little self-indulgent.

For the most part, the movie was competently shot, acted, and scripted, with Christian doctrines and Bible quotes finding their way into the dialogue naturally. If one were to nitpick, it would be the seemingly sudden transformation of the once-toxic John Danielson midway through the film (C. Thomas Howell). Doubtless, people have been radically transformed by Jesus throughout history, but the change for John here comes across as unnatural rather than miraculous.

As one watches this movie, it will be a challenge to avoid cringing at each gut-wrenchingly painful situation that the Newman family must endure. Which makes the film’s more upbeat ending a welcome surprise, as it manages to coalesce the movie’s disparate characters and plot points into a rousing crescendo. So, yes, sitting through the heavy drama of “A Question of Faith” does payoff in the end.

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