Dial a Prayer full movie review - Better Dialogue and Scene Structure than most films
Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I always beg for more character development and back stories. I loved this movie, but I needed to know a bit more about the supporting characters.
William Macy plays a wonderfully animated boss of a Dial-A-Prayer business. But we never hear how he got into the field or why. Also, no one ever identifies what church the girl's family, the call center, and the town identify with. Is it Catholic? Interestingly, there is practically no mention of Jesus, except when the funny boss says that he parted the Red Sea.
Therefore, I think a non-Christian could feel comfortable watching this without feeling bombarded by J.C.
The film is not really about religion. It is about second chances and turning one's life around. There is good usage of the Fall and Winter Midwest landscape. One could see it as either bleak, or starkly beautiful, depending on attitude. There are some clever references to that. The final scene shows a couple quietly beholding the glory of a blank snowy setting.
Do prayers make a difference? Our protagonist keeps asking this question. Of course they do, but the film focuses only on the aspect of making people feel better. It doesn't mention any metaphysical effect on the world at large, or the idea of praying for world peace and messianic redemption. People are only praying for themselves and their family to deal with domestic and health issues.
Casting is so essential to a character-driven film. This one aced the test. I don't know who Brittany Snow is, but her no-makeup sadness came through the screen with genuine sincerity. Macy phoned it in, no pun intended, but in his case, he phones it in beautifully. Glen Headly, the mom, fit the profile to perfection. No one here is great looking or flashy. They are ordinary people in a working class Midwestern town trying to make it through life the best way they can.
What I loved the most was the way they structured dialogue scenes. The characters would say just the right amount of words to each other, without overdoing it or milking the scenes for manipulative effect.
I could have done without the few dream sequences and the schmaltzy music toward the end, but the photography was first rate.