Granger on Movies: ‘War Room’
Published 10:14 am, Monday, September 7, 2015
Westport News film critic Susan Granger reviews the new movie, “War Room.”
Back in 1953, the Ladies Home Journal inaugurated its trademark feature, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” Each month, troubled couples would relate their problems and a marriage counselor would suggest solutions.
Perhaps I’m incorrect, but I certainly don’t remember any therapist suggesting that a psychologically abused wife turn to praying in a closet as a remedy.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy good spiritually based movies like “Field of Dreams,” etc. Indeed, my brother, Stephen Simon, started the Internet-based Spiritual Cinema Circle. But not this kind of simplistic drivel.
Set in middle-class suburb, the story revolves around busy Elizabeth “Liz” Jordan (Priscilla Shirer), wife of Tony (T.C. Stallings), mother to 10 year-old Danielle (Alena Pitts) and part-time realty agent.
As a pharmaceuticals rep, Tony is often on the road. When he returns home, he has control issues, criticizing Danielle for jumping rope instead of playing baseball, refusing to help Liz’s sister out financially, and escaping to the gym whenever he can.
When Liz meets Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie) who is interested in selling her house, a friendship develops, as elderly Clara questions bitterly unhappy Liz about her religious beliefs, urging her to make a commitment to Jesus and cast Satan out of her home.
Pious Clara, who was influenced by her late Vietnam battle-strategist husband, shows Liz her “war room,” an empty closet she uses for praying, referring to Matthew 6:6, which is often translated, “When you pray, go into your inner room” … but the King James Bible substitutes the word “closet.”
Somewhat skeptical at first, Liz nevertheless creates her own clothes closet “war room” when she becomes aware that thieving Tony is on the brink of betraying her with a co-worker.
Evangelical filmmakers Alex and Stephen Kendrick fared better with their previous faith-fueled films: “Courageous,” “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof.” This time, the pacing lags while Paul Mills’ soundtrack blares with Christian rock anthems, even as Liz and Tony experience a heavy-handed Mary Magdalene moment.
FYI: Daughter of the Rev. Tony Evans, Priscilla Shirer is a Christian educator. And, if you’re curious about the recommended prayer regimen, check out the Battle Plan Prayer Cards and Sticky Notes, available for purchase on the entrepreneurial Kendricks’ website, www.kendrickbrothers.com.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “War Room” is a proselytizing 3, aimed at a church-going audience.