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Conversations with God

(2006) * 1/2 Pg
111 min. Samuel Goldwyn Films. Director: Stephen Simon. Cast: Henry Czerny, Ingrid Boulting, Bruce Page, Vilma Silva, Zillah Glory.

For a big-screen film, Conversations With God is a cheaply produced bargain, but it must also be the most pricy infomercial ever made. Loosely adapted from the writings of Neale Donald Walsch, the film recounts Walsch's claims that, after a neck-breaking car accident and bout of homelessness at age 50, he began a series of philosophical conversations with God. Nice work if you can get it, and you can get it if you try.

The transcribed conversations became the basis of his books, which have made him a millionaire and, now, movie producer. Though the messages Walsch passes on—of God's benevolent omnipresence, the universe conspiring in our favor, and the guiding light of love—are perfectly nice, and the tale of his middle-aged reawakening may swell his feel-good, non-denominational ministry (and his book sales), Conversations With God isn't likely to make choir converts out of those not already carrying a tune.

The film's didacticism is immediately apparent in that the first substantial scene is an extensive lecture (more follow); at its dramatic best, the film approaches the tone of an episode of Highway to Heaven. Henry Czerny (best known as the bad guy from Clear and Present Danger but also—lest we forget—the untrustworthy priest of The Boys of St. Vincent) lends the film undue credibility, but what most stand out are the scenes in which skeptics challenge Walsch, only to be serenely refuted. Unfortunately, these fictional paper tigers are asking all the wrong questions.

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