JANUARY 22, 2018 11:09AM PT
Chiwetel Ejiofor excels as a preacher forced to rethink his faith in this clear-eyed look at power struggles in the Evangelical community.
By Peter Debruge @AskDebruge
CREDIT: COURTESY OF SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL/TINA ROWDEN
Director: Joshua MarstonWith: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Condola Rashad, Jason Segel, Martin Sheen, Lakeith Stanfield, Danny Glover.
1 hour 45 minutes
“Come Sunday” may be the perfect movie for Netflix. Too fair-and-balanced to have come from the faith-based community and far too churchy to have gotten the blessing of any studio, director Joshua Marston’s exceptional, serious-minded adaptation of a 2005 episode of NPR’s “This American Life” recognizes the dramatic and ultimately uplifting potential in the true story of a Pentecostal bishop who lost both his flock and the backing of church leaders after he began to question one of the core beliefs of his religion — namely, the notion that souls must be “saved” in order to avoid eternal damnation.
Had it been destined for a conventional theatrical release, “Come Sunday” likely would have bombed in the big-city markets where such indies begin their journey, never reaching the Heartland audiences who might appreciate it most. Rolling out on Netflix in April, however, “Come Sunday” will be available to millions of households in virtually every market as part of the standard $10 subscription, which means it could get seen by audiences who never would have spent $10 on a movie ticket (it’s been nearly two decades since Robert Duvall succeeded in reaching Evangelicals and art-house crowds alike with “The Apostle”).
For those who choose to sample “Come Sunday,” they’ll be rewarded not only by the compelling story of a devout Christian wrestling with his faith but also by one of the great screen performances of recent years, as “12 Years a Slave” star Chiwetel Ejiofor captures both the charismatic passion and softer-voiced introspective side of bishop Carlton Pearson, whose preaching style was unique enough to bring black and white worshipers together under the same roof. As bishop of Higher Dimensions Family Church in Tulsa, Okla., Pearson preached to a packed congregation (and nationwide television audience) about the perils of hell and what they must do to enter heaven.