Reviewed by: Ken James
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Starring: Ian Bannen, Jonathan Pryce, Griff Rhys Jones, Geraldine James, Matthew Rhys | Directed by: Martin Duffy | Produced by: Ben Goddard, Louise Goddard, Helena Mackenzie, Dominic Berger | Written by: Maureen Tilyou | Distributor: Impact Entertainment
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Faith is an important ingredient in most of our lives. For those who put their hope in Christ and in the power of God, our faith becomes even the defining factor of who we are. But what would it be like if we were surrounded by those without such faith? In the quaint Welsh countryside, 12-year-old “Tal” (John-Paul Macleod) finds himself with just such a quandry in the little known gem of a film “Taliesin Jones”.
Tal is an endearing youth growing up in a cold emotionless house since his mum (Geraldine James, She’s Been Away) left the family for another man. No one quite seems to know what to do about it. His father (Jonathan Pryce, “Brazil”) seems too detached; his older brother (Matthew Rhys, “Titus”) is just plain bitter. Yet Tal’s fond memories of his mother help him to hold out hope for a future reconciliation that may never appear.
In his loneliness, Taliesin befriends the village piano instructor, an elderly man named Billy Evans (Ian Bannen, “Waking Ned Devine,” “Braveheart”). Billy is know in town as the local healer. He prays to God for healing, lays his hands on those who come to him, and watches God’s power work. Though never expressing a faith in Jesus as Lord, Tal becomes fascinated with this unheard of miraculous faith and wants to sit at Billy’s tutelage to learn how he can help people. Billy agrees, as long as Tal agrees to step up his efforts at learning the piano.
Surrounded by skeptical and often just downright rude kids at school, Taliesin forms a gang called “The Believers” where they attempt to pray for those who need physical healing. One boy, a diabetic, is prayed for by the believers. We never know if he is healed or not (most likely not), but the incident worries the boy’s mum (understandably so) who talks to the school headmaster in hopes of abolishing this “dangerous” group of healers. Other instances, often humorous, come about through this well meaning group of do-gooders.
Over the days and weeks to come, Tal struggles with many conflicting emotions. Turmoil at home, the death of a dear friend, the healing of an unsightly wart on his hand, and more. Taliesin even comes to the point where he loses faith in God’s power, but a thought-provoking home visit from his schoolmaster helps to point Tal back in the right direction. Even his skeptical critics at school begin to turn their attention towards God’s power.
As a lover of the arts, and particularly one who enjoys what we Americans call “foreign” cinema, I thoroughly enjoyed this award-winning feature. The technical aspects of this film are excellent. I have no complaints in that department. Theologically, however, I wouldn’t study this film for too much truth. My understanding of God’s miraculous healing is that it is the power through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that breaks the barriers of physical reality. While Billy Evans may have been a follower of Jesus and one who prayed to him for healing, he never really imparts that key ingredient to Taliesin.
There is an interesting side commentary present. When Tal goes to the local church in his excitement to learn about God, he finds an all-too-apathetic vicor who shepherds only a few elderly people. Where are the youth; where is the life? There is none, and perhaps this is the sad reality in many parts of Europe today (even in America). But in Tal’s enthusiasm, I saw the heart that many of today’s generation seem to have for spiritual things. They are seeking, and we must do what we can to provide timely answers to their longing questions of truth.
Rated as “Better than Average” due to the thought-provoking nature of God’s power, healing touch, and little offensive material. (There are a few instances of profanity, crude language, and the element of Tal’s mother living out of wedlock with another man).