Monday, February 21, 2011

Back in Time Reviews: Keeping the Faith (2000)

Do you have a movie that you totally love but it feels like no one else you know feels the same way? One of those movies, for me, is "Keeping the Faith." Hubs likes it but I *LOVE* it. Starring Edward Norton, Ben Stiller, and Jenna Elfman, and directed by Edward Norton, any well-boiled-down synopsis starts to sound like a joke: "A priest, a rabbi, and a blonde walk into a bar..." Well, ok, actually it starts with the priest going into the bar, but you see where I'm going here.

The center of the conflict is a love triangle. Father Brian and Rabbi Jake have been best friends forever, but back in middle school they had a third musketeer, the athletic, aggressive Anna Riley (not just a blonde, but a Mick - the joke just keeps going) who had to move away when they were all young teens. Now she's back in town and looking to reconnect with her former best friends. Romantic sparks start to fly.

What makes this movie work is Norton's gentle touch as the director. Although the humor could be outrageous it is done in a sweet, teasing way rather than over the top. Although many of the topics are rife with emotional conflict (family pressures, betrayal, deciding whether to leave the priesthood) they are navigated with an integrity that honors the underlying issue without wallowing in melodrama over it.

Sweet, sweet movie.

The Commander's Rating: Five out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Gentle humor. Anne Bancroft, Eli Wallach, and Milos Forman in supporting roles. Enough "best guy friends" scenes (basketball, etc.) to keep men from categorically hating it as a chick flick.
Cons: It might be subtle to the point of bland, depending on your tastes. Guessing not everyone will roll on the floor laughing over the Rabbi trading cards the way I did.
Recommendation: Excellent for girl's night, for any man with emotional depth, or to snuggle with your significant other if they are up for a romantic comedy that includes a priest.

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