Though the modern-day version of the classic bible story of the prodigal son is appealing to the eyes and ears-the storyline behind “The Gospel” is as familiar and predictable as the lines are at financial aid.
Filmed in Atlanta, “The Gospel” tells the story of a young man who turns away from the church after a tragedy, who goes on to pursue an R&B career.
After his father (Clifton Powell) becomes ill, he returns to the church to find the congregation in disarray, while his childhood friend, now a rival, (Idris Elba) attempts to change the direction of the church.
The story opens with Pastor Fred Taylor presiding over a progressing church in Atlanta.
His son David and David’s best friend Frank, are in the youth ministry together.
But when tragedy strikes, young David turns from the church.
The movie then flashes to 15 years later, with David as a chart-topping R&B singer.
David is soon forced to face his father after learning that his father is ill.
Returning home, David learns that the church he once knew has taken a turn for the worst, with the threat of foreclosure due to financial problems.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Frank, David’s best friend-turned rival, has been selected to be his father’s successor.
As the story develops, the audience is left with a sense of disconnection to the characters, especially with the main character, David (Boris Kodjoe), which can be attributed to the lack of direction within the plot.
And as predictable as it is, the audience’s ability to finish the sentences in the script are quite unfaltering.
The relationship that develops with Rain (Tamyra Gray) and David leaves much to be desired, more specifically, what the point was in them even having a relationship.
The fact that many things in the movie are left for interpretation, writer and director Rob Hardy says that it was intentional.
“You really don’t know what happens with David and Rain at the end, and you really don’t know if David comes back to the church for good,” Hardy said.
“We didn’t want to wrap it up and put a nice bow on it.”
“The Gospel,” however, is successful in giving the audience a feel-good movie, filled with performances by a host of talented artists such as Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond (executive producer) and Hezekiah Walker.
Though the performances leave the plot at a stand-still, they do give credibility in Rob Hardy and Will Packer’s venture to create a “real” movie.
“The Gospel” takes a chance in pushing the envelope for the presence of wholesome black movies in a mainstream society-in that sense, they were quite successful.
I give “The Gospel” an “A” for its attempt to provide an accurate portrayal of the black church, however I give it a “C-” in the actual execution of that vision.
Thus, my overall rating for this movie is a “B-“-it’s worth seeing, just prepare yourself to see something similar to what you have seen before.
Contact Stephanie Nickens at firstname.lastname@example.org