After I saw "The Apostle," the 1997 film that Robert Duvall wrote, directed and starred in, I was convinced Duvall must have been raised (and was probably still active in) a Pentecostal church. He captured so much of the feel of such a church.The movie was critical without being condescending, and he brought to the screen people's grace and God's grace with a reality rarely captured.
The film came fourteen years after his Academy Award-winning performance in "Tender Mercies," in which he was so very convincing as a man who hits bottom, and then truly repents, placing his faith in Jesus as his Savior and becoming part of an evangelical country church.
But that just goes to show how foolish it can be to guess the background of artists based on their work. Duvall was born in San Diego, California, and grew up primarily in Annapolis, Maryland. His family wasn't Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, or Evangelical, but instead, he was raised in Christian Science. Though he no longer attends church, those are still his beliefs.
Nonetheless, through his own research for "The Apostle," the work of Horton Foote for "Tender Mercies" and three other writers on "Get Low," Duvall has been part of three films that depict the Church in America better than almost any others.
Duvall has also been in a couple of films that do an absolutely horrendous job of representing the Church, but those will come later. Let's begin July with a celebration of three films that capture the Christian faith in a delightful and authentic manner that many who call themselves Christian filmmakers never quite seem to pull off.