An Interview With God
Jacob Richardson | 26//2018
Meandering, and never really fulfilling, An Interview With God does little with its intriguing premise.
After returning from his role reporting in Afghanistan, journalist Paul Asher (Brenton Thwaites) finds his marriage on the rocks. Struggling to deal with the loss of his family, and the horrors he witnessed overseas, he accepts an interview with a man claiming to be God (David Strathairn) - a three part interview, 30 minutes each day over the course of three days.
Directed by Perry Land, An Interview With God never really feels like it gets going, and part of that is probably in the deference and respect with which it deals with religion. Our deeply faithful hero, Paul Asher, is entirely implausible. Not only is he seemingly a successful up and coming reporter who exclusively writes about the Catholic faith; he also never once portrays the incredulity one would expect upon meeting the famed deity in a park, playing chess.
It’s both good and bad. On the one hand, this deferential treatment will undoubtedly serve to appease the true apostates in the crowd. On the other, we as a cinema-going audience have deep experience with what makes a character ring true on screen, and for everyone but the most devoted Catholics, this lack of genuinity will immediately disconnect you from the character.
That being said, Strathairn does do a tremendous as the interviewee. He is simultaneously all knowing, and loathe to reveal too much. Land takes the character and ensures he only speaks in the same cryptic way that the Bible portrays him (to an extent), and Strathairn ensures that this tendency nevers grates on the audience.
The real problem with the film is in its scope. Too often, we are intensely focussed on the marriage between Paul and his wife, and the drama contained within. It, along with the interview structure, very much limits the story. The drama never feels real enough to convince us there are true stakes, and Thwaites can never truly match up to Strathairn in the interview portions to give us a meaty character piece. Indeed, the intriguing bits that occasionally crop up are never pursued. There’s a running thread about knowing the time of one’s own death, a tantalising tidbit about a regular column where the columnist ‘interviews God’, and a strange relationship between Paul and his sister-in-law; all leaving you thinking ‘that would have made a better movie’.
An Interview With God is a strangely respectful approach to the topic, but too full of ‘what could have been’s to ever break out of its own mediocrity.