Review: Keeping the Faith (2000)

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Religion and love don’t mix, at least not for me!

Written By: Stuart Blumberg
Directed By: Edward Norton

Keeping the Faith has always been a personal favorite of mine. It isn’t a great movie, it’s actually quite a flawed movie. But, for some reason or another it appealed to me upon first viewing and that appeal has never dwindled. It is a very engaging and fun story, full of a lot of wit and I do love Jenna Elfman as Anna more than I probably should. I think it all comes down to simplicity, because in the moments when Keeping the Faith drops all of Edward Norton’s attempts at fancy directing and plot movement, it is a very simple movie that is easy to connect with. A major factor is the freshness with which Jake and Brian tackle religion. I am not a religious person, that would be kind of hard as an atheist, and one of the things that drove me away from religion and faith was the resistance to new ideas. I find the ways that Jake and Brian attempt to enrich the faith of others endearing and a breath of fresh air compared to what I am used to from organized religion. It is that fresh take as well as the original idea behind the love triangle that help me to view Keeping the Faith as a long lost acquaintance that I am always happy to see again.

However, like most of my acquaintances there are reasons why Keeping the Faith never moves into the category of enduring friend. It is bloated, and it meanders. Keeping the Faith suffers from identity crises’ in what Mr. Norton wants it to be. Not that a movie needs to be defined, but Mr. Norton will take an angle, like the fourth wall approach he takes for a few minutes in the beginning, only to abandon it minutes later and veer off in another unrelated direction. It’s hard for Keeping the Faith to gel into one cohesive film because of those directorial choices. But, those flaws are knocked to the back by the characters, the laughs, and the charming nature of the story.

Keeping the Faith isn’t a must see film, it wouldn’t kill anyone to never see it. There are plenty of films I would recommend before it, but it’s still a good film that I enjoy watching. That may sound like faint praise, but sometimes you want a movie that you just love to cozy up with as opposed to a movie that will wow you and make you think. Maybe Keeping the Faith will be that same type of movie for you, I know it has been for me.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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