Mark Wahlberg’s latest film, Father Stu, is an R-rated religious film that tells the story of Father Stuart Long. The admittedly unconventional nature of the film has made it an anticipated film for many viewers. According to Wahlberg, the idea for the film materialized from a dinner with a group of priests where the pitch for a film about the life of Father Stuart was presented. Wahlberg began working on the project in 2016, and the film has now been released after six long years.
The screenplay for the film was written by Rosalind Ross, who made her directorial debut in Father Stuand the film rights were acquired by Sony Pictures. Father Stu, delving into faith and detailing the experience of transformation, was understandably projected as somewhat controversial, likely to appeal to some and fall short of the expectations of others. The film was released in theaters on April 13, 2022, during Holy Week and received mixed reviews from critics.
Here’s everything to know about the film and why audiences might want to give it a try.
The plot of the movie
The official synopsis of Father Stu, according to Sony Pictures, reads as follows:
Based on a true story, Father Stu is an unflinchingly honest, funny, and ultimately uplifting drama about a lost soul who finds purpose in a most unexpected place. When an injury ends his amateur boxing career, Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg) moves to Los Angeles dreaming of stardom. While working as a supermarket worker, he meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz), a Catholic Sunday school teacher who seems immune to his bad boy charm. Determined to seduce her, the lifelong agnostic begins going to church to impress her. But surviving a horrific motorcycle accident leaves him wondering if he can use his second chance to help others find their way, leading him to the surprise of realizing he’s supposed to be a Catholic priest. Despite a devastating health crisis and skepticism from Church officials and his estranged parents (Mel Gibson and Jacki Weaver), Stu pursues his calling with courage and compassion, inspiring not only his loved ones but countless others along the way. .
According to the official synopsis, Father Stu follows the adult life of Father Stuart Long. The film takes viewers from Father Stuart’s pre-conversion days to the impact he has as a priest after conversion. It is not just faith and belief in God that Father Stuart has to contend with. He also suffers from a degenerative disease, inclusion body myositis, a progressive muscle disorder that leads to muscle inflammation, weakness and atrophy. In a world that seems clouded by negativity, Father Stuart’s courage and determination are challenged as he navigates life while standing firm in his faith. As it explores the realities of struggles in faith and life, the film is somewhat unorthodox in its gritty setting.
Mark Wahlberg was well aware of the unconventional nature of Father Stu and was determined to make a film that had an impactful impact on its audience. Speaking to America Magazine in April 2022, Wahlberg said:
“The religious guys were all very nervous, and they all wanted me to do a faith-based movie that was very safe, very middle ground and very, you know, bland. And we’ve seen those movies, and they don’t really budge much the needle.
The cast of the film
Mark Wahlberg stars as the protagonist, Father Stu. Wahlberg also financed much of the film and has been directly involved in its development since the initial idea in 2016. Australian actress Jacki Weaver plays Father Stuart’s mother, Kathleen Long, while Mel Gibson plays the protagonist’s father. , Bill Long. Mexican actress Teresa Ruiz plays Carmen, a close friend of Father Stuart and a mild romantic interest. Other cast members include Cody Fern, Annet Mahendru, Faith Jefferies, Carlos Leal, and Michael Fairman.
Everything We Know: Other Details
Although he took some creative liberties, Father Stu closely adheres to many details of Father Stuart Long’s life. True to the very essence of the priest, Wahlberg portrays Father Stuart authentically and retains his humanity, including honesty, sharp tongue, and affinity for swearing, while simultaneously depicting his passionate relationship with God. The relationship between Father Stuart and his father is preserved in the film. The fact that Bill Long assists Father Stuart when he is no longer able to travel alone is directly related to the characteristics of the priest’s father who was described in Father Stuart’s obituary as giving “tireless help” to the priest.
Despite the film’s many upsides, critics have also raised some concerns about the film. The Hollywood Reporter claims that while the film would have an established audience due to Wahlberg’s fanbase and the priest’s revealing, gritty life story, it’s unlikely to appeal to those without a background. interest in stories of spiritual redemption. THR also criticized the film’s script for being too rushed and unconvincing in some ways. Perhaps more depth should have been given to aspects such as Father Stu’s troubled family history. However, the cast is credited with giving outstanding and compelling performances in the film, noting that Gibson “gives one of the strongest performances of his career”.
Like every movie, Father Stu has its own share of fans and critics. The film’s negatives and positives remain subjective, with the message addressing each viewer differently. Either way, the movie is perhaps the one that should have a chance because, as Variety said, “Father Stu is not your daily religious odyssey. Despite its flaws, it is a film that sincerely portrays religious sentiments.
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