THE STORY OF AN UNLIKELY PRIEST

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Father Stu, released recently, featuring the unique true story behind the life of Stuart ‘Stu’ Long, a man who moved to Los Angeles to become an actor, but after a turn of events, finds his true calling. The film stars Mark Wahlberg in the lead, as the title character Father Stuart.

The biographical drama film also stars Jacki Weaver as Stuart’s mother, Kathleen Long, Mel Gibson as his father, William ‘Bill’ Long, Teresa Ruiz as his crush, Carmen, and Cody Fern as Jacob, a priest and friend.

Father Stu is an engaging film that delivers a story with a strong lead character, who is well developed with clear attention to detail, that starts by introducing him with an insight into who he was as a person, trying to make his mark as an amateur boxer, but after his career abruptly ends, shows him faced with setbacks as he moves to become a star, only to end up trying to survive as a supermarket clerk. The plot unfolds quickly with clear direction, as it takes viewers on a journey with Stuart, as he meets a woman from the church, and later finds his path after an incident changes his view on life, his greater purpose, and his understanding of god’s work.

The film is easily entertaining, as it delivers humour initially, when he meets Carman, and tires to win her over with his bad boy charm and determination, while also starting to go to church as a way of trying to impress her, given that she was incredibly involved with the church, as a Sunday school teacher. The story at the same time, has a balance of serious moments that makes it a roller coaster of emotions for viewers, as they see the struggles and obstacles he has in his path, that could have easily made him give up on his goals but instead, the movie highlights how he pushes through the hardest challenges life throws at him, only to help people and be the best person he could be.

Mark Wahlberg once again proved his worth as a seasoned actor, portraying his character in a convincing manner that is in line with the true story. His performance has been praised by many for good reason, given that his work showed clear precision.

Wahlberg who in 2016 announced that he would be working on the film about Father Stuart, put in millions of his own money into the production, while his commitment to the character had him consuming almost 7,000 calories each day for around six weeks to intentionally gain 14 kilograms.

The person in the beginning of the film and the man Long becomes at the end, are completely different, but the way the story unfolds, makes it easy to relate to the character and understand how a man who was a long time agnostic, changed his views so much along the way. To eventually become a Catholic priest, and commit to changing his way of life, and become motivated enough to do what is needed to fulfil what is required of him. Long’s commitment feels like the highlight of the film and is one that is sure to inspire viewers, given the obstacles he needed to overcome.

This is a film that shows how an ordinary man, made his second chance in life count, after having a realisation that led him to want to help others. The story also shows how patients suffer from Inclusion body myositis (IBM).

The 124-minute film by director Rosalind Ross, as part of her directorial debut, was produced by Jordan Foss, Stephen Levinson, and the star himself Mark Wahlberg, working in collaboration with production companies CJ Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, and Municipal Pictures. The film went on to rake in over US$ 20 million at the worldwide box-office, backed by mixed to positive reviews, with 43 per cent featured on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.9/10 on IMDb.

The film with the tagline ‘The most unlikely priest,’ carefully tells a story of redemption and finding God, with the support of Long’s parents, numerous priests, bishops, and friends, who were also involved in the making of the film, which makes this a film that is worth watching, for a story that is truly inspired.

By Nirupa Mohan Dore