The Letters: Movie Review
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Mother Teresa selflessly devoted her life to serving the poor. She even formed a new Catholic order, with permission from the Vatican, to minister to the dire needs of the poorest of the poor living in Calcutta, India. Her inspiring story began with a call from God and is the subject of director William Riead's new film, The Letters.
Moviegoers get a glimpse into the life and ministry of this saintly woman (Juliet Stevenson) through the 50-year-long correspondence she shared with her friend and spiritiual advisor, Father Celeste van Exem (Max von Sydow). Rated PG, The Letters sets itself up to be a nice faith and family-friendly film to see this holiday season.
THE MOVIE IN A MINUTE
In her second decade at the Loreto Convent, Sister Teresa diligently works as a teacher and school administrator for Calcutta's privileged Catholic girls. She adores teaching, but the desperate need she sees outside the convent walls shakes her. In prayer, she seeks God's guidance on what she is to do. His answer changes her life and those of the many starving and dying souls relegated to the slums of the city.
THE GOOD AND BAD IN THE LETTERS
Riead's film, regrettably, doesn't live up to Stevenson's praiseworthy performance as Mother Teresa. The Letters doesn't dive deep into her described torment; her writings spoke of personal struggles with God, often feeling alone and abandoned by Him and others. The movie just scratches the surface of the underlying drama that's there in Teresa's story. Her moments of doubt could've been more effecting had the film not sainted her from the very beginning. The Letters also has a dragging, plot point by plot point feel to it, unfortunately.
The film's strength is in its moments of spiritual reflection. Throughout The Letters, Teresa seeks God in prayer. She ministers to the poor as Jesus Christ himself did, and she does so in His name. Her motives, as portrayed in the film, aren't to convert those living in the slums, but to help them, to heal them, and to serve them. This cinematic reminder to love all -- even the outcasts of society -- in Jesus' name is a welcomed one. Though the film has its flaws, its conquering message of faith over doubt and love over hate is moving.
Rated PG for thematic material including some images of human suffering, The Letters doesn't contain any content that would be too much for most older children. Scenes of angry mobs, including one showing a baby crying near two dead bodies lying in the street, may be difficult viewing for some. Still, parents should consider watching this film when it's released on DVD with their kids for its faith-stirring message.
IN THE END
The Letters falls a bit short -- with its slow-going retelling of Mother Teresa's story. However, it does offer audiences a faithfilled movie option.
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