Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Movie Review: Restless Heart

“Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in You.”
~ St. Augustine

Those who know me know that I am writing very few reviews these days due to the many hours of research I have been devoting to my Master’s thesis in theology.  However, when I was offered a chance to review the first full-length feature movie on St. Augustine, I could not refuse, as he has long held a special place in my heart.

This beautiful and inspiring film did not disappoint.  Restless Heart was even better than I imagined it would be and I had high expectations prior to watching it.

As the film begins, we are transported to the besieged city of Hippo in 430 A.D. The elderly Augustine recounts his life story to the captain of the guards, sharing the powerful influence his mother, St. Monica, has had upon his life. The film flashes back to Monica in childbirth. Augustine’s birth is a difficult one for her, even life-threatening, but she emphasizes to the midwife how important this child is to her – that she is willing to give birth even at the risk of her own life. She begins to pray and suddenly, there is movement, and Augustine is born. This is just the first of many prayers she will utter on his behalf.

 As a youth, Augustine is fed up with his father’s womanizing and is disdainful of his mother’s prayerfulness and long-suffering ways.  He desires a different kind of life for himself. Witnessing the persuasive rhetorical skills of the famous orator, Microbius, he yearns to study under him in order to become a lawyer.  The family is too poor to afford this, but with the financial assistance of a well-to-do friend of the family, Augustine is sent to Carthage to study under Microbius.  There, he successfully learns the tools of the trade, while growing increasingly ambitious, arrogant, and narcissistic.  His lustful, self-centered ways lead him down the road of depravity.  He begins a long-term affair with his female servant, who bears him a child. As an attorney, he has become so successful that he convinces a jury to acquit a guilty man of assaulting his wife, while failing to recognize the immorality of his actions. He eventually falls under the influence of Manichaeism, a Christian heresy, which appeals to him, as it obliterates the guilt associated with his sinful acts. (The Manicheans believed that evil existed independently of God, who was powerless to stop it.)

My favorite scene of the entire movie (The conversion scene is stunning and moving, but this scene stands out for me.) is one in which the now-Catholic Bishop Augustine publicly debates the bishop of the Donatists, a heretical sect, against whom he has struggled for many years.  It is in this scene that we are given a glimpse into the soul of Augustine and how drastically he has changed from the once perplexed and confused young man to a mature Christian who now fully embraces and eloquently defends the Truth.

Restless Heart was a joy and a pleasure to watch, as it is a soul-stirring story which conveys the beauty of truth in a commanding way via: Scripture passages, poignant lines from Augustine’s Confessions, meaningful dialogue, and exceptional acting.  In addition, it not only portrays the life of St. Augustine, but the film brings to life two other great saints –St. Monica and St. Ambrose – as well. Overall, this is a top quality film which I highly recommend. I predict that it will become a spiritual classic and be loved by audiences for many years to come.

Restless Heart will not be a theatrical release; it is, however, available for sponsored theatrical screenings across the country. Individuals, parishes, church groups and other organizations can work with The Maximus Group’s outreach team right now on starting the process of bringing the movie to a theater near them until early November. To learn the steps involved in scheduling and hosting a successful screening of this amazing film, contact The Maximus Group at 1-877-263-1263 or RestlessHeart@MaximusMG.com, or visit www.RestlessHeartFilm.com

Read the list of endorsements the movie has garnered thus far from prominent Catholics: http://maxondeadline.com/restlessheart/endorsements/.

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann 2012

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