Based on books penned by Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God chronicles--dramatizes is too strong a term--Walsch's personal journey from secular narcissist to car-accident victim, destitute street person, God's amanuensis and finally in-demand public speaker. Most of the action takes place in Oregon where Walsch is stripped of all pretense and worldly possessions, living at a lakeside campsite catering to the homeless. Eventually he gets a job at a radio station. Only when he loses that gig does he start channeling God, which, by the way, means channeling himself because “The love inside you is God.” Indeed, the voice Walsch hears is his own, and it helps that he was a deejay and is portrayed by a thespian of Henry Czerny's caliber, capable of stentorian delivery. According to Eric Delabarre's screenplay, enlightenment boils down to conquering your fears and doubts and opening yourself up as a vessel of love. What Walsch's message ultimately amounts to is for theologians and consumers to decide, but this uninspired presentation certainly drains it of some mystery and risks turning his writings into the ultimate self-help guide. Who knew the key to human spirituality was to be found in countless shots of Czerny earnestly staring into space sporting Christ-like facial hair?
Again, the books shouldn't be condemned based on this under-lit, out-of-focus, low-budget production. It should have been made for television where it probably would have been better-funded and reached more people. In this static form,
Conversations with God
is unlikely to bring about any conversions or awakenings. To be fair, it won't shake anyone's faith in a loving deity either. Saul became Paul on the road to Damascus. Just don't expect director Stephen Simon to suddenly turn into Pier Paolo Pasolini or Frank Capra. And despite his valiant efforts, don't expect Henry Czerny to be idolizing a gold statue anytime soon.
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn
Cast: Henry Czerny, Vilma Silva, Bruce Page, Abdul Salaam el Razzac, Zillah Glory, Joe Ivy and Michael Goorjian
Director/Producer: Stephen Simon
Screenwriter: Eric Delabarre
Rating: PG for thematic elements, some language and a brief accident
Running time: 109 min.
Release date: October 27 ltd