Reviewed by: Rosemarie Ute Hoffman
|Featuring:||Boris Kodjoe, Idris Elba, Nona Gaye, Clifton Powell, Aloma Wright, Omar Gooding, Yolanda Adams, Martha Munizzi, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Donnie McClurkin, Tamyra Gray, Hezekiah Walker, Delores “Mom” Winans|
|Director:||Rob Hardy (“Pandora’s Box” / “Trois”)|
|Producer:||Will Packer, Holly Davis-Carter, Fred Hammond|
See it! Live it! Spread it!
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “The Gospel” explores the inner-workings of a church. Told from the perspective of the pews, the film gives a realistic portrayal of people dealing with true life struggles and issues. Maestro Kirk Franklin helped set the tone by writing music for the film’s performance sequences.
Here is the 411! The Gospel is not only entertaining, but it weaves a sobering message for the Church. Rob Hardy, director/writer, has done a brilliant job in making art imitate life. He skillfully removes the veil from our eyes as he exposes each layer—the inner-workings of church, the complicated relationships in the midst of church family, the humanness of spiritual leaders, and how they often confuse progression for spotlight.
Aside from all the drama, the energetic worship services throughout might have most viewers, even the more reserved, participating in their movie seats—as their body and spirit, move in sync to a heavenly beat. Gospel music blends Christian religious lyrics with melody and rhythm, which first grew and became popular with African-Americans and white Southerners, but is admired now worldwide.
David Taylor’s (Boris Kodjoe) character mimics the biblical parable of The Prodigal Son. After the death of his mother, the young David (Michael J. Pagan) leaves New Revelation Church where his father is the cofounder and bishop. His exit is an eruption of oppressed feelings that state the obvious—his father always has time for the church, but not for him. His life in the world includes hit records, plenty of money and women, and the all-encompassing living for his flesh. Fifteen years pass before David returns for a visit, and he does so because he learns his father has a terminal illness.
Wesley (Omar Gooding) is David “D.T.” Taylor’s manager who eagerly gives voice to the flesh. He promotes promiscuity with women on standby, and uses the phrase “dime brizzles” [meaning whores] from rap artists Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams in Drop It Like It’s Hot. Wesley also vocalizes on numerous occasions to David, “Wesley said it, and it shall be done!”
David’s love interest at New Revelation Church is choir singer, Rain (Tamyra Gray an “American Idol” finalist), a mother of a five-year-old girl. Her candid remarks and quick wit reel David in—hook, line, and sinker! However, it is not long after that Oscar (Dwayne Boyd) (a military man who is Rain’s ex, and who has been stationed in closer proximity) is back on the scene.
After a successful mentorship in ministry, training under Bishop Fred Taylor (Clifton Powell), Frank Charles (Idris Elba) takes over the New Revelation Church. The Reverend Frank Charles’ behavior is questionable while trying to increase attendance and raise funds for a new building. His campaign slogan: A new man, a new church, a new vision. At a celebration event that includes top-billing performers—Yolanda Adams, Martha Munizzi, and Fred Hammond, he further tells a crowd that Moses was also given a vision from God and had naysayers that challenged his destiny. It is apparent that Reverend Charles forgot the benefits of preaching and opening the altar the old-fashioned way. He would much rather use the hyped-up, infomercial approach that the other all-star gospel gangs are using.
Charlene (Nona Gaye) depicts a tightly-wound woman who refuses to have intimate relations with her husband the Rev. Charles. Her character is distant and often cold, yet, she can be more approachable with others. Her underlying behavior towards her husband is revealed by the end of the movie, along with a desperate plea that her husband, the Reverend, needs Jesus!
Two welcoming voices in the wilderness speak truth, Ernestine (Aloma Wright) and Minister Terrance Hunter (Donnie McClurkin). Ernestine is the loyal congregant and worker that has been through the conception, labor, and birth of New Revelation Church. Her wisdom reaches David and makes a difference. Minister Hunter serves under the Bishop, and then later serves under his successor the Reverend Charles. Though unlike Ernestine, Minister Hunter’s mission is to provoke Reverend Charles while using direct dialogue.
Luke 15:32 “.we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”
The Prodigal Son returns and admits the error of his ways. His father rejoices and celebrates by clothing the son in his best robe, putting a ring on his hand, and sandals on his feet—along with a fatted calf for a feast.
Being lost is not just associated with nonbelievers. Unfortunately, some church folk (which may include clergy, ministers, or pastors) have gone astray. Some find themselves on the outskirts of God’s will because of man-made formulas and/or confusing progression for spotlight. These and other subtleties are disguised as “God’s vision,” but it is only a setup for ruin—ruined hearts, relationships, and lives. God forbid! Getting back to the beginning and surrendering to God’s Holy Spirit is key, for He is our helper.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.