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Director: Stuart Hazeldine
Writers: John Fusco (screenplay), Andrew Lanham (screenplay)
Stars: Sam Worthington, Octavia Spencer, Tim McGraw
Review by Gilbert Seah
THE SHACK is a faith movie that loses the ‘Christianity’ label but whose theme would probably include the Christian faith. God appears in many forms, as male papa (Graham Greene), female papa (Octavia Spencer) or Jesus (Avivi Alush) or Sarayu Sumire Matsubara.
Though the Christian God’s name is absent, many of the teachings of Christ are present in one form or another. In the film, God appears in the film as a trinity, though the trinity is not in the form of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost but in the form of papa, Jesus and Sarayu. The preaching of forgiveness, very important in Christianity is also emphasized in the story.
The film opens with a young boy, MacKenzie as he witnesses his father abusing his mother and then giving him a beating after he tells on him at church. The abuse obviously flows into the boy’s adult life. The film forwards to the present where the boy is now a grown man, (Sam Worthington), married with two children. Christianity loves to test the faith of its believers and in this case, the patience of the audience as well.
After his young daughter is murdered during a family camping trip, Mack Phillips spirals into a deep depression causing him to question his innermost beliefs. Facing a crisis of faith, he receives a mysterious letter urging him to the shack where the crime occurred, deep in the Oregon wilderness. Despite his doubts, Mack goes there and encounters an enigmatic trio of strangers led by a woman named Papa. Through this meeting, Mack finds important truths that will transform his understanding of his tragedy and change his life forever.
Director Hazeldine’s straight forward storytelling technique leaves nothing to the imagination. Apart from a few dreamlike sequences, the story unfolds in chronological fashion with hardly a flashback The film is more interesting (though this is not saying much) in the first 15 minutes or so, because there are incidents happening. After, when redemption is the order of the day, the film just ponders along ponderously.
There are no special performances in the film. Worthington appears to be faith blindly walking though his role The same goes for the rather well-known name cast that includes Radha Mitchell, Octavia Spencer and Graham Greene. I have never seen Spencer in such a painful performance, forcing laughter too many times as in this film.
The film is suitable for a family audience. There is no foul language. Even the child beating scene is done without any violence and the reason for Missy’s appearance is mentioned in a ‘too polite’ manner.
An overlong faith movie running at 132 minutes which is as slow and tedious as it tests your faith and patience, see THE SHACK only if you absolutely MUST.
The film end with an equal tedious song “Keep Your Eyes on Me” by Faith Hill and actor Tim McGraw.
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