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Return to 2006 Films

Index of 2006

An Inconvenient Truth
Big Bad Swim
Brokeback Mountain
Cinderella Man
The Departed
The DaVinci Code
Eron: The Smartest
Guys in the Room

Good Night and
Good Luck

Half Nelson
History of Violence
Hotel Rwanda
Little Miss Sunshine
Journey from the Fall
March of the Penguins
Million Dollar Baby
Prairie Home Companion
Star Wars III:
Revenge of the Sith

Thank You for Smoking
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Sea Inside
United 93
War of the Worlds
Walk the Line
World Trade Center

Conversations with God

A Review by Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)

FILM SYNOPSIS: A man who falls into homelessness and despaire finds a way out by conversing with God.

I’m always on the lookout for films with spiritual and/or religious themes. It’s hard to find them, but occasionally they pop up. So when I heard about a new film called Conversations with God, based on the popular series of books by Neale Donald Walsch. I checked it out. Unfortunately, the film is a disappointment.

First off, I must admit that I have not read any of Walsch’s books, so I am coming at this film with a blank slate. I may have been better prepared if I had been more familiar with the material.

The film tells the story of Neale Donald Walsch (Henry Czerny), author of the books. As the film opens, Neale is speaking to an enthusiastic crowd in Baltimore in 1995. Even though Neale gets a couple of tough questions, he handles them with ease and receives a standing ovation. The film then flashes back five years to Neale’s home city of Portland, Oregon, and the horrifying auto accident that resulted in a broken neck for Neale. Neale begins a downward spiral, resulting in a loss of everything. He ends up homeless, living in a tent, scavenging in dumpsters for food.

Eventually, Neale lands a part time job at a radio station. Just as he begins to get on his feet, and is able to rent a house, the station closes down, leaving him unemployed and on the brink of despair. Then one night, God begins to speak to him. Neale writes the stories of his “conversations” with God, which are published in the series of enormously popular books.

One of the problems with the film is that God’s words to Neale are pretty dull. I would hope that God had something more inspiring or prophetic to say than the bland voice Neale hears. The conversations are actually monologues, as if God was dictating directly to Neale. These monologues fly in the face of any contemporary understanding of revelation. God speaks directly to people who can take copious notes and then publish them. It’s a strict literal approach.

Secondly, the God of this film bears no relationship to the Judeo-Christian revelation. Furthermore, he seems to have no connection with any of the world’s great religious traditions. This God just comes across as a friendly, disembodied voice.

Finally, the tone of the film is self-congratulatory. True, it chronicles Neale’s journey into homelessness. However, from the opening scene, we know that he will transcend his troubles to become a spiritual guru, moving from speaking engagement to book signing, being a really nice guy who changes people’s lives. This might make some sense if there was any indication that he was saying something profound. Unfortunately, what we hear is “new age theology light.” On the evidence of this movie, I saw nothing that would change lives, or inspire anyone. I hope the books were better than the movie.

Tom Condon, OP

The film contains questionable theological underpinnings, some mature themes and brief mild innuendo.
The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting
classification is A-III -- adults.

The Motion Picture Association of America
rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested.

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