"A Faith of One"
Distributed by: Focus Features
Produced by: Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman, and Diana Ossana
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: Paul Haggis and Larry McMurty
Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Bishop Hal Nelson
Sean Penn as Rabbi Max Cohen
David Strathairn as Allen Samson
Ed Harris as Samuel Rodgers
Catherine Keener as Patricia “Patty” Nelson
Haley Joel Osment as Mark Nelson
Jake Gylllenhaal as Andy Spritz
Laura Linney as Mary Levy
Clive Owen as Jeremy Levy
Keisha Castle-Hughes as Emily Fallon
Heath Ledger as Oliver Fallon
William Hurt as Paul Fallon
Tagline: "Religion is never intimidated"
Release Date: December 12, 2007
Synopsis: In a small Utah town, the people are strictly divided by religion. The largest of these religions are the predominant Latter-Day Saints who are represented by their bishop Hal Nelson (Hoffman). There’s also the Jewish community who are represented by rabbi Max Cohen (Penn), the Baptists who are represented by their pastor Allen Samson (Strathairn), and the Protestants led by their minister Samuel Rodgers (Harris). Though these religions coexist within this town, there is a huge degree of separation among the people. As each religion strays away from those of the other, the rift grows larger.
This is seen the most through the eyes of the many of the members of each faith. There’s Mark Nelson (Osment), the bishop’s son, whose faith is waning due to his alienation by his fellow members. Then there’s the married Jewish couple Mary and Jeremy (Owen and Linney), who are facing the issue of having an increase of Mormon families moving into their neighborhood. Then there’s Emily Fallon (Hughes), a girl adopted to a Baptist family, who is being pressured with the religious beliefs of her demanding Baptist father Paul (Hurt) and her newly converted Mormon brother Oliver (Ledger). It seemed that there could be no way the situation for these people could worse.
Then came a fateful day in late October. That was the day Andy Spritz (Gyllenhaal), a very verbal antichrist, came into town. Knowing of the town’s religious differences, Spritz begins spreading his “teachings” to the populace in hope of causing chaos among the faiths. What follows is a maelstrom of confusion and deceit that threatens all within the town. As members of each faith are tested by Andy’s assault, their leaders begin to stand up for themselves. Forced to tolerate each other, these men set out to defend their members and their faith. But as the months go by, they notice that their defense is causing more confusion and tension. Will they find a way to stop this religious upset together or will Spritz’s anarchy reign supreme?
What the press would say:
“Shocking”. “Controversial”. “Powerful”. “Inspiring”. Just some of the words used to describe this amazing movie from people who know about tensions. Paul Haggis’s deep examination of religion, similar to what he did for Crash, is complemented excellently by Larry McMurty’s sensitive yet powerful dialogue. Sam Mendes is wisely chosen as the director, as he divulges into the touchy subjects of religion and religious tolerance with intelligence and sensitivity. While it’s not a big Hollywood picture, it has an excellent production crew that may convince people the opposite. The great scenery of Utah is beautifully captured by Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography, with Hughes Winborne’s editing setting the great pace that he used in Crash. The emotions of the town are beautifully expressed by Thomas Newman’s haunting yet wonderful score. However, it is the ensemble cast that makes the movie what it truly is, with each actor playing the amazing characters that are the writers’ signatures with true skill. The lead roles of the religious leaders portrayed in the movie are all played to their best. However, it is the talented Gyllenhaal who lights up the screen as the devilishly manipulative and garrulous antichrist who brings these events into motion. This is defiantly one of the movies that Oscars were made to be given to.
Best Picture: Cathy Schulman, Paul Haggis, Diana Ossana
Best Director: Sam Mendes
Best Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Best Actor: David Strathairn
Best Actor: Ed Harris
Best Actor: Sean Penn
Best Supporting Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal
Best Supporting Actor: Haley Joel Osment
Best Supporting Actres: Keisha Castle-Hughes
Best Original Screenplay: Paul Haggis and Larry McMurty
Best Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto
Best Editing: Hughes Winborne
Best Original Music: Thomas Newman
Best Song: Andrew Llyod Webber for “Do You Believe”