Pray on it
Somewhere secluded in Appalachia, Mara (Alice Englert) is secretly pregnant out of wedlock and cannot tell anyone. Her father, Lemuel (Walton Goggins) is a pastor of their small church, where they hold venomous snakes and speak in tongues. When Sister Hope (Olivia Colman) finds out, she and her lover, Augie (Thomas Mann) are forced to confront their sins and go through a dangerous tradition at their church.
I've been waiting to see this film since it premiered at Sundance earlier this year. It had plenty of positive reviews then promptly dropped off the face of the Earth until now. In a way, I get it. Movies dealing with religion, mainly one that paints it in a very bad light can be fairly niche. But it still disappointed me that this film wasn't talked about more considering the setting alone gives Ozark and Winter's Bone vibes, and those are still fairly popular.
I'm happy to say it was worth the wait. It's a deliberately paced film that will have you wishing you could reach through your TV and slap several characters at times. The actors are wonderful. Colman couldn't be less glamorous and different from when I saw her last in The Favourite. Goggins is such a reliable actor, especially when he's playing a creep. He's very believable as a religious nut. Mann and Kaitlyn Deaver, who plays Mara's friend Dilly are both welcome additions in their small parts. Englert carries the movie well. I feel like it has been ages since I've seen her last, but I loved how she played Mara. She didn't come off as the typical person questioning her faith. She truly wants to believe, but the way her community does things is backwards and wrong and she doesn't need that to have faith.
Aside from the editing being really choppy, the one thing I wish this film had was a bit more context. It could've used another 15 minutes or so on its run time to flesh out the characters further. I wish we could've seen more of Augie and Mara together. I also wish we learned more about Dilly, who seems to almost be a bit of a pariah in the community. We're told her mother left her there, but she's so easily dismissed by everyone else except Mara that I felt like there had to be more story there.
Watched on: Netflix DVD