then it was Hurricane Wilma that hijacked Halloween
last year in South Florida. What local resident could forget the
electrical blackouts, cold water showers and long
lines for overpriced gasoline? Taking the good with
the bad, one must remember the tasty propane cooked
meals, crisp cool climate and the values of being a
good neighbor during those moments of stress? Local
heroism shifted from sports stars and entertainment
celebrities to that of the good natured and
overwhelmed clerks who worked in hardware and grocery
Without the television or the internet, the post
Hurricane Wilma recovery made people look at practical
values of everyday living. Given the limited release
this Halloween weekend, "Conversations with God" is
a quiet alternative to slasher fare being unleashed
this weekend. Based on the series of books and
journals written by Neale Donald Walsch, this film
looks at his life and why it is important to listen to
one's inner voice.
Approaching the age of 50, Neale Donald Walsch (Henry
Czerny) is a failed man in business and relationships.
He can unable to be hired because he is
“overqualified.” An accident bankrupts him and Walsch
finds himself in a homeless community. Thanks to his
acquaintance Fitch (T. Bruce Page), Walsch learns
basic survival skills; like picking out the best
leftovers from restaurant garbage pails and how to set
up a shelter in tent city. One blustery day, Walsch
follows up on a job lead with a radio station. He
gets the job and his luck starts to improve.
For the most part, "Conversations with God" is a
quiet meditation. Yet the film deals with the roller
coaster spiritual awakening of Neale Donald Walsch.
Walsch goes from a broken neck homeless person to
that of self help guru who gives lectures on peace,
love and happiness. If "Conversations with God"
were not a biography, one could not believe the
coincidences and happenstance of Neale Donald Walsch.
Yet there are enough truthful moments in the details
to keep the film grounded in reality.
With limited screen time, T. Bruce Page as Fitch makes
the most of his supportive role. When Walsch is at
his most down and out, Flitch makes Walsch
street-smart. When Walsch goes for his important job
interview - Flitch raises money for Walsch to clean
himself up. Yet as Walsch rises out of the gutter,
poor Flitch remains trapped in his despair. One
painful and poignant scene involves Walsch attempting
to impress one of his coworkers at an outdoor
restaurant. The potential romantic encounter is
marred by Flitch's sudden and drunken appearance. The
tragedy of this situation resonates long after
"Conversations with God" concludes.
After a career playing unsavory bureaucratic villains
in movies like "Mission Impossible" and "Clear and
Present Danger," Henry Czerny adds a humble dimension
to his cinematic career. Czerny spends most of the
movie listening, but his eyes reveal Walsch’s pain,
humor and acceptance. As he progresses to public
speaker and best selling author, Czerny has created a
composite character and gives a consistent
"Conversations with God" is direct contrast to the
mainstream movies opening tomorrow; "Saw III,"
"Babel," and "Catch a Fire." Yet, given our
travails caused by Hurricane Wilma, "Conversations
with God" is one of the few movies that relate to our
local memories from a year ago.