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A Question Of Faith


A Question Of Faith

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"You're totally freaking out my vows of chastity," jokes a monk as he's ogling the newly formed breasts of another monk in A Question Of Faith, marking the howling nadir of a film with any number of candidates. As conceived by writer-director Tim Disney, grandnephew of Walt and son of Disney vice-chairman Roy, this laughable portrait of a Northern California monastery-cum-vineyard shaken by divine grace could hardly be less authentic if the Mickey Mouse Parade marched through on the hour. The story opens with a genuine miracle: Touched by the Angel Gabriel, who descends from CGI Heaven in a vision, brother M.E. Hackett is transformed from a girlish man into a pregnant woman. (Or, more accurately, a pregnant woman who has removed her glue-sticked facial hair.) After Hackett confides her secret to brother Paul Guilfoyle, he informs the head of the monastery (Bernard Hill) and the news spreads quickly, dividing the skeptical old-guard traditionalists and the liberal-minded younger set, who embrace the spiritual implications of her metamorphosis. While the two camps fight bitterly over whether the unborn child is an Immaculate Conception or the spawn of Satan, the elders, egged on by the sinister Daniel von Bargen, keep Hackett under lock and key to ensure that word of the alleged miracle doesn't leave the grounds. To flout tradition even further, one of the younger monks (Naveen Andrews) falls in love with the beatific heroine, a romance that would sever their commitment to the church and, of course, freak out their vows of chastity. Even for a first feature on a shoestring budget, A Question Of Faith is a work of astonishing banality, rife with inane dialogue, cardboard characters, and religious gags that wouldn't pass muster in a Sister Act sequel. Worse still, Disney's cavalier revisionism shows little understanding of (or respect for) the rigors of living in a monastery or why it's important for monks to make sacrifices to further their relationship with God. Rather than consider the natural skepticism of the elder brothers in the face of a miracle, he villainizes the non-believers as petty and closed-minded bigots, especially von Bargen, a mercenary drunkard who loses his temper when he's had too much "blood of the lamb." A Question Of Faith wants to question staid traditions, but it's only fair to at least acknowledge them first.