Nice vistas and a scenery-chewing Famke Janssen aren’t enough to save this absurd scriptural rehash from movie hell
The latest from evangelical Christian producers Pinnacle Peak – formerly Pure Flix, the money behind the surprisingly enduring God’s Not Dead series – is an adaptation of a Francine Rivers novel that remaps the biblical tale of Hosea on to a western goldrush setting. That synopsis suggests a level of creative imagination and ambition, possibly something like Michael Winterbottom hauling The Mayor of Casterbridge further west for 2000’s The Claim. Yet this movie thinly scatters a parable’s worth of plot across 134 minutes and resembles HBO’s Deadwood recut for Sunday-school purposes: pious, puzzling and punitive, with a sternly wagging finger never far from entering the frame.
Let us give Pinnacle Peak this: they’re getting mildly more sophisticated about delivering The Message. DJ Caruso, a studio director of the mid-00s thrillers Taking Lives and Disturbia, gives the courtship of soulfully bestubbled farmer Michael Hosea (Tom Lewis) and Pair-a-Dice’s star sex worker Angel (Abigail Cowen) a sunny, handsome, Nicholas Sparks-like sheen. (It’s the best-looking faith movie since 2014’s Heaven Is For Real.) And unlike the early, cheaper Pure Flix ventures, this one has proper actors. Famke Janssen enjoys herself as a brothel madam, while the leads – raised exclusively on wholegrain breakfast cereal – are sincere enough in their Best Little Whorehouse on the Prairie way.