How do you know if you’ve really heard from God? This is a question that’s been asked since the beginning of time… whether it be Bible characters or lifelong Christians. Each of us wonders from time to time if it’s actually the divine nudging us. This dilemma is at the heart of ‘All Saints.’
Based on a true story, ‘All Saints’ recounts the story of once salesman, Michael Spurlock. Now a freshly minted Episcopalian pastor, he is given the task of closing down a local parish called All Saints.
Spurlock soon finds that God might have another purpose at All Saints. John Corbett, masterfully plays the “I’m still navigating this whole pastor” role, as he comes to grips with the reality of his new job, such as resistance in the congregation, which is comprised of twelve people…the need of the local Karen refugee population… the callousness of the “oh-so-keen” developers who are talking about dissecting the beautiful church to make a bit of extra cash.
All of these circumstances leave Spurlock wrestling between the job he was sent to do and his inner desire to do something else. One night, he finds himself standing in the vast property that the church owns in the rain, and it is at this moment that he believes he hears from God. As he recounts to his wife, he believes God said, “I’ve given you land, I’ve given you farmers. You do the math.”
Thus begins the tension that carries the rest of the movie. What was God really saying? Did Spurlock really hear from God, or was it just his own ego? What role does each member of the community have in bringing about the reality of this vision from God? What sacrifices will be required?
‘All Saints’ wrestles with these questions and more. In the process, it works through themes such as doubt, motives, pride, need, humility, disappointment, vocation, calling and the miraculous. Fortunately, the movie is not weighed down by these themes and is still enjoyable for any viewer.
One of the best elements of ‘All Saints’ is the comedy that runs from start to finish. It works in great balance with the serious themes and issues being explored. It is facilitated in a large part by another Northern Exposure regular Barry Corbin. The grumpy Maurice from Northern Exposure is reborn with an added level of salty in the character of Forrest. Ultimately, he is a hard nut with a soft gooey centre.
The strength of ‘All Saints’ is that it portrays a true story, and the authenticity of that comes through in the film. There are no simple roads. No simple solutions. No simple relationships. No simple answers. In that mix, there is something special. It makes it real. It makes it relatable.