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One Movie Punch

Apr 14, 2018

Today’s movie is “Come Sunday” (2018), the religious drama based on the life of Bishop Carlton Pearson (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a preacher ostracized by his congregation and peers for proclaiming that everyone has already been saved and that there is no hell. The film was adapted for the screen by Marcus Hinchey and directed by Joshua Marston, based on a culture segment broadcast on This American Life.

This film tackles a very important topic in western society: the changing meaning and purpose of religion, specifically Christianity in the case of Bishop Pearson. Theologians and philosophers have dealt with classic issues like the Problem of Evil and Pascal’s Wager for centuries, struggling with the many contradictions found within scripture and among denominations. And despite what some folks would like to believe, the meaning and purpose of Christianity has changed quite a bit over two millennia. 

“Come Sunday” deals head on with these issues through the story of Bishop Pearson, brought to life by an amazing performance from Chiwetel Ejiofor, but also with the support of Condola Rashad as Gina, his wife; Lakeith Stanfield as Reggie, the gay church keyboardist; Jason Segel as Henry, one of the church elders and founders; Danny Glover as Quincy Person, his uncle; and Martin Sheen as Oral Roberts. Each supporting cast member helps carry Bishop Pearson’s story through his fall and subsequent rise. 

The real struggle with this film lies in the script and the direction. Bishop Pearson’s story has well more than an hour and forty minutes of content, and as mentioned, a lot of supporting characters that never really seem to develop outside of Gina. Marston’s direction is pretty good, but sometimes overuses focus filters and slow shots, which was disappointing as I really appreciated his technique and style in “Maria Full of Grace” (2004).

“Come Sunday” (2018) is a film that is better as a whole rather than the sum of its parts. Critical messaging and an excellent cast help smooth over structural problems with the script and overwrought direction in execution. Some religious viewers may find this film too challenging in its messaging, but most biopic fans should enjoy it.

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%

Metacritic: 65

One Movie Punch: 7.8/10

“Come Sunday” (2018) is rated TV-14 and is currently streaming on Netflix.