It’s time for a bio pic. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these and what better time than around Easter? This movie follows a man named William Spence who was close to becoming a doctor but at the very end he decided instead to become a pastor. He had been at a particularly moving Church service which caused him to have this turning point in his life. His bride to be Hope decided to support him in this although her parents were not thrilled. From there point of view he threw away what would have been a handsome salary for a position where he will be making pennies. Still, William’s mind is made up and so he heads to his first Church. Unfortunately he is about to meet with some unexpected opposition.
While the core values of Christianity have not changed nor will they, this film does show how differently you were expected to act back in the day. One such thing was that you were not allowed to play on the Sabbath. William made sure his kids just played Bible memorization all day on that day every week. They weren’t allowed to watch movies at all and could barely play with the others. William also allowed himself to be walked on by the members of the congregation for pretty much the entire film except at the end when they start attacking his son. At that point he mentions that he goes from being a pastor to a parent. So…one implication is also that if they had been attacking him he may not have fought back.
That’s where his character needed a little more nuance. It’s certainly not true that being a Christian means you have to be a pushover. Standing up for yourself is not breaking any commandments nor is it a sin. When the locals start bullying Hope and bring her to tears, William does nothing and just tells Hope that they mustn’t do anything to rock the boat. Even though it’s their house, Hope has absolutely no power within it which makes no sense. If she wants to move something she should be able too. Then the heads keep pushing William and Hope to different states where the houses are in worse and worse condition each time. The film also makes the congregation look terrible as most of them turn out to be the meanest characters in the film.
It’s not necessarily inaccurate as you will find those kind of people in any institution, church or not. Still, it would have been nice if William had more people he could count on. The only one who was nice to him was ironically the Doctor who wasn’t a Christian but got converted off screen during one of the time skips. Then William also does some pretty petty things like changing the name of their child even though Hope had really wanted a different one. Worst part of this is that he gave his word that he would be okay with hers and at the last second switched it when she didn’t have a chance to fight back. Hope just lives with this, but it just wasn’t a nice thing to do.
So at times the film could be pretty mean spirited. Even the ending is pretty iffy as William decides to move on again. Hope has a point that this tends to happen a lot and then they’re taken advantage of. If you’re going to be a travelling pastor then of course you’ll have to deal with a lot of trials, but it’s not unreasonable to at least be able to walk with pride and all. Having to tip toe around each community is pretty dicey. Still, his overall goal was sound so I can support that.
It’s a well meaning film for sure and it does take a lot of guts and courage to throw away all you’ve got to help someone else out. The film also does throw in some humor and the writing is solid. The film is well paced so it doesn’t drag out and the main cast is solid enough to hold the film. The best character certainly is the doctor. Without him I think William and Hope would have certainly be doomed. He gives them a voice of reason and also has the expertise that they really needed to go on with their plans. William brings the passion while the doctor brings the logic.
Overall, One Foot In Heaven is a solid film. I don’t agree with most of William’s decisions in the film, but at least his journey was a righteous one. You’ll definitely feel bad for Hope and the kids, but they do their best with what they have. One nice thing is that the kids don’t spend most of the film complaining the way you see them do in many other films. Typically the kids are super annoying while these were more tolerable. It’s a good film to watch if you want to take a look into how hard it was to be a pastor back in the days as well as realizing that it is still very difficult in the modern day. It’s not a dream profession if you’re thinking financially but at the same time it’s a very fulfilling one.