Cast: Robert Duvall (The Apostle E.F.), Farrah Fawcett (Jessie Dewey), John Beasley (Brother Blackwell), Walton Goggins (Sam), Miranda Richardson (Toosie), Billy Bob Thornton (the troublemaker)
Director: Robert Duvall (it's Robert Duvall. I'm not listing his numerous accolades)
Plot: Without giving anything away, this film is about a flawed and conflicted man of God. On the one hand, he's a fire and brimstone preacher, but on the other he is no different than any other lustful sinner. When he commits a violent act against a coworker, he flees Texas and finds himself in Louisiana, where he reinvents himself as a born-again Apostle.
Why you should watch it: This film is an outstanding, if overlooked, piece of cinema. Robert Duvall is at his best in this incredibly character-driven story. If you ever saw The Great Santini, think of that film but with a military man replaced with a fiery preacher. While centered around the Pentecostal faith, this is by no means a religiously themed movie, aside from the main character being a preacher and an apostle.
As a Catholic, I find other religions fascinating. I have always enjoyed watching people practicing their faith, because I sometimes find it to be a window into their fervent beliefs. This film follows a fantastic storyline, one of a protagonist who is on the one hand a powerful speaker of God, but on the other a man with a wandering eye and unfaithful in his marriage. He is a true dichotomy, fighting each and every day for his soul because of these two polar extremes.
Robert Duvall is the type of divisive actor where some people like him and some don't. I believe this is a testament to his talent, because if you hate him because of a role or roles, then he is doing his job to perfection. Duvall has a long and distinguished acting career, winning an Academy Award, four Golden Globes, and a National Medal of Arts. Because he had writing and directing control of this film, he was able to stock it with fantastic actors. John Beasley plays a preacher with whom Duvall's character preaches alongside. The wonderful and criminally underrated Walton Goggins (The Shield, Justified, Sons of Anarchy) plays Sam, one of the Apostle's newest converts and followers. June Carter Cash even makes an appearance as the Apostle's mother. However the most interesting casting choice is that of Billy Bob Thornton as an unnamed troublemaker. Thornton, were he to make better film choices, could be another Duvall, and it's quite apparent here.
You don't have to be religious to enjoy this film. In fact, I'd say the less religious you are, the more you'll enjoy it. It's a darkly inspiring film, if such a duality can be applied. Released in 1997, it never really made it above "indie film" status, even though the actors are accomplished and respected. Give the film a look, I think you'll enjoy it.
The trailer really sucks and doesn't represent the film in any way at all, so I instead selected this clip to give a more accurate representation of the film. Let me know what you think.