Saturday 16 March 2024

Movie Review: Father Stu (2022)

Genre: Biographical Drama  
Director: Rosalind Ross  
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Jackie Weaver, Malcolm McDowell  
Running Time: 124 minutes  

Synopsis: In Montana of the 1980s, Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg) is drifting through life as an amateur boxer. His mother Kathleen (Jacki Weaver) lives nearby, but his frequently drunk father Bill (Mel Gibson) is in California, the family having never recovered from the childhood death of Stu's brother. When the boxing injuries add up, Stu relocates to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He falls in love with Carmen (Teresa Ruiz), a devout Catholic. She introduces him to her church community before an accident changes his outlook.

What Works Well: Director and writer Rosalind Ross sprinkles humour into a search-for-purpose biographical drama, and allows Stu to remain true to himself as his life takes unexpected twists. The spiritual tones are prominent but well controlled by healthy skepticism, and the romance between Stu and Carmen is an effective catalyst. In a commanding central performance full of zest, Mark Wahlberg undergoes a couple a startling physical transformations from unkempt boxer to a man of religion. He is ably supported by Mel Gibson's angry-at-the-world father and Jacki Weaver's still-hopeful mother.

What Does Not Work As Well: The aesthetics, sets, and sense of time and place rarely rise above monotonous blandness, while the title's revelation of Stu's ultimate destination ensures his journey is amiable but also predictable.

Conclusion: A feel-good story about finding passion while confronting adversity.

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