The Devout is a new addition to the faith-based genre, and it’s actually a pretty cool flick. You don’t often hear “cool” in the same discussion as recent faith-based cinema, so I assume I already have your attention.
Darryl (Charlie Carrick) and Jan (Ali Liebert) are a Christian couple trying to keep their emotions together around their cancer-diagnosed four-year-old daughter Abigail (Olivia Martin). In between their vulnerable breakdowns, they press on and make life as wonderful as possible for young Abby by abiding to her daily wishes.
Then, Abigail starts acting funny. She makes aloof, disjointed references to the failed Apollo 1 mission, even referring to herself as someone named “Commander Jones”. Darryl fixates on this, and it ends up driving him mad. He receives the cold shoulder from Jan, who doesn’t believe these random bursts are adding up to anything, and the community looks on with soft yet distanced compassion. However, Darryl refuses to give up on this lead.
The Devout is wise for building around the characters’ faith instead of making it the prime focus. While establishing a sincere story about spiritual parallels, past lives, and forgiveness, writer/director Connor Gaston has also made a mannered movie that hangs in uncertainty to provide authenticity. When Abigail makes an odd comment, Gaston allows his actors to process this discrepancy. These moments make the audience feel the same fascination and fear that Darryl experiences.
The film becomes more of a standard weeper as Abby’s health dwindles, but also watered-down science fiction as Darryl seeks out a specialist who has the personality of a moonlighting exorcist. These choices are definitely not as thought-provoking or imaginative as Gaston’s earlier collaboration, but The Devout is already a miracle considering how much it succeeds.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie