I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – most “Christian” movies, well, suck.
Check out our previous post “5 Movies about Faith that Don’t Suck” to see the first round of 5 films for your consideration. Due to the overwhelming response and recommendations (some were new, and some were reminders) we had to add on to the ever-growing list of compelling films that wrestle with meaning, faith, and God.
Without further ado, here’s 5 MORE movies about faith that don’t suck:
Life of Pi
A visual and storytelling masterpiece, Life of Pi can at first glance seem a stumbling block to Christians. From the outset, the film tells you that it is about faith, and even suggests that it might make you believe in God, but its pluralism and the choice its ending leaves you with left a bad taste in the mouth of many religious people. The discerning viewer, however, can watch it as a reflection on the nature of belief itself, and the role story and personhood play in it.
Of course one of the better films about faith is one called “Doubt.” Adapted for film and directed by the author of the play on which it is based, this story of a Catholic parish and school pits wrestles with certainty, doubt, power, abuse, and ultimately faith. Exquisitely written, it also features four of the finest actors to ever grace the screen in Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Viola Davis (who packs an entire film’s worth of acting into one unforgettable scene.) The film explores the darkness of sin and the ways it leads not only the sinner, but even the pursuer of righteousness, away from God.
Featuring Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons in the peak of their acting prime, The Mission is a story set during the colonial takeover of the Americas – a dark period of enslavement, genocide, and manifest destiny. While the Church’s role historically was not as innocent as it is portrayed here, the theology on display is beautiful to behold, even if it is more aspirational than historical. Along the way, the film features some of the finest portrayals of redemption, forgiveness, and what it really looks like to “turn the other cheek.” This is not a film to be missed!
Some of the best films about faith are made about individuals who hold fast to the best parts of Christianity while the institutions fail to do so. This is never more painfully and sweetly wrought than in Philomena, a story about a woman (the titular Philomena) who was punished by the church for her sin by having her son taken away from her. It’s based on a true story, making it even harder to bear. To further push Philomena toward despair, the journalist accompanying her to find her lost son is a distressed atheist, and a jerk about it. Without spoiling what is a spectacular conclusion, the faith of Philomena in the face of righteous anger and structural abuse is a wonder to behold.
Tree of Life
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth … when the morning stars sang together?” Opening with this scripture from the end of Job, when God puts Job’s anguish into the context of all creation, Tree of Life ambitiously and majestically explores the life story of man in search of healing, AND the creation and evolution of the cosmos. And while it’s ambition (and it’s slow and non-chronological storytelling) can be off-putting, to surrender yourself to its spirituality and beauty leaves you somehow in tune with the paradox of Job: that God is both nearer and farther than you could possibly imagine.
So there you go! 5 MORE movies to challenge and strengthen your faith.
Did you miss our first round, “5 Movies About Faith that Don’t Suck?” Check it out!
Theophany’s mission to bring God to light in film has another branch: a YouTube channel of video essays. Check them out, and don’t forget to like and subscribe while you’re there.