SHORT TAKE: All Saints is a charming delightful uplifting movie about the real life All Saints, a failing Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee which, despite its own desperate financial problems, takes in 70 persecuted Burmese Christian legal refugees. Perfect for ALL ages.
Mother Teresa famously said: “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful.” All Saints is a movie that exemplifies that sentiment.
Based on a true story: filmed in the church of the title and using the refugees who sought help from this church as actors, All Saints is about a small failing Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee. A freshly minted pastor – Michael Spurlock (played by John Corbett) – is assigned by the local Pastoral Council to use his skilled business talents to close All Saints, a dying church with only 12 remaining active members, and sell the 16 ares of bottom land on which it sits for close to a million dollars. Spurlock reminded me of the young man who approached Jesus asking what more he could do to become closer to God. But when Jesus told him to sell all he had and give to the poor the young man turned sadly away. Spurlock did not. He turned his back on his lucrative career which, by his own admission was killing his marriage, and followed the voice which had been calling for him for years. Taking his wife (played by Cara Buono) and son to this tiny community it was to have been a test for him which would springboard him to a more prominent church position.
But in God's Providence, just as Spurlock is about to close the sale for the property, the most unbelievably unlikely group of 70 Episcopal legal refugee natives from Burma – shunned and persecuted in their own country – walk into the church seeking admission and help. Were I writing this script I would have dismissed this idea as a McGuffin that no one would have accepted as possible….except that that is what really happened.
Michael is inspired by what he believes is the Voice of God telling him to save, instead of sell, the church, and to help these poorest and smallest of His people. Bucking his superiors he comes up with a plan to use the resources God has put into his hands and do just that.
Without giving too much away, Michael encounters internal and external struggles, obstacles, and challenges he never expected, and gifts he couldn't have imagined. Like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade he had to step out into what appeared to be thin air relying on his faith in God alone to see him, his family, the surviving members of the All Saints congregation and the new influx of refugees who came to trust him across a chasm which seemed impossible to cross.
This is a beautiful movie with a richly warm heart. Corbett is charming and sincere as Pastor Spurlock, Nelson Lee is wonderful as Ye Winn the leader of the refugees who fathers all of the families and is a man with a tragic but noble past. And most delightful of all was the appearance of people like David Keith who you will recognize from a zillion TV and movie supporting roles. I was especially pleased to see Barry Corbin who plays the oldest and most cantankerous All Saints member and expert farmer. Mr Corbin, also quite memorably played General Beringer in 1983's Wargames. (See quote below)
It's refreshing to be able to recommend a movie with absolutely no reservations or editorial warnings. This is a movie for everyone.
BTW – Appropos of nothing except my own fond memory of the scene – Corbin, as General Beringer, says one of my all time favorite lines, which I have applied every time I have been frustratingly faced with one of those forced upgrades we must all endure from either our business programs or Microsoft: “Mr. McKittrick, after very careful consideration, sir, I've come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks.” LOLOL