Review: Conversations with God

The film makes Héctor Babenco’s Ironweed look like Umberto D.

Conversations With God
Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Neale Donald Walsch, God bless his soul, might say that this one-and-a-half star assessment of director Stephen Simon’s very loose adaptation of his Conversations with God books is a product of fear—and he would be right, for we should all be wary of a film so artless, and whose dominant function is to shill for Putnam Books. Walsch’s humane New Age philosophy gained traction for ingeniously gathering ideas advanced by other writers as far back as Plato and collecting them in one place (or, rather, three—the number of books God told the man to write prior to asking him to write another four) and rephrasing them in Hallmarkisms we can all understand. Walsch has made a fortune for essentially acting as God’s secretary (he has stated that he does not write so much as he takes dictation), but this movie portrays him dangerously close to a messiah. Henry Czerny, as Walsch, is better than the movie, which, though it takes great pains to mythologize the man’s journey to a million-dollar-plus payday, would have us believe that Walsch didn’t receive his philosophy of the world from God so much as he did from the people around him: His relationship to Liora (Vilma Silva), a former co-worker at a radio station who transcribes his writing to computer, stands as an example of his superiority to Carly (Zillah Glory), an overzealous girl who doesn’t follow her own instruction to never say “goodbye” to a person when “see you later” will suffice. Try as he might, Czerny is no match for the sanctimonious pap and hoary clichés director Stephen Simon and writer Eric DelaBarre dump on the actor’s shoulders, which include hallucinations of two personal demons haunting Walsch’s publicity tour and scenes of homelessness that make Héctor Babenco’s Ironweed look like Umberto D. Someone advises at one point that dreams don’t have deadlines, and yet the famous cover jacket of Waslch’s books couldn’t flash on the screen fast enough.

 Cast: Henry Czerny, Vilma Silva, Bruce Page, Abdul Salaam el Razzac, Zillah Glory, Ingrid Boulting, Joe Ivy, Michael Goorjian, Carolyn Hennesy, Jerry McGill, Ruth DeSosa  Director: Stephen Simon  Screenwriter: Eric DelaBarre  Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films  Running Time: 109 min  Rating: PG  Year: 2006  Buy: Video, Book

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Toronto International Film Festival 2006

Next Story

Review: Marie Antoinette