'Problem of Evil:' Film Review

 

Problem of Evil posterProblem of Evil provides an interesting look at religion and faith from a number of different perspectives. The film follows Jason (Ethan Kogan, who also co-wrote and co-directed the film with Jessica Silvetti), a documentary filmmaker who’s struggling to deal with the loss of his wife. While doing a piece on a community garden, the woman who runs it—whom he’s never met—shocks Jason by relating to him some of the intimate, personal details of his life. She tells him that she’s part of a religious group, and that their spiritual leader told her years ago that Jason would be the one to carry the group’s message to the world.


Jason is naturally skeptical and angered at the invasion of his privacy. Together with his friend and cameraman Pete, he sets off to learn more about this cult group, find out how they knew about him, and, hopefully, ultimately expose them as frauds. And so he begins to track down and interview members and former members of the cult, finding out their stories, and trying to get a bead on their elusive and enigmatic leader, whom the members seem to believe is an angel. At the same time, Jason also talks to various religious leaders and experts of all different types, to help gain some insight into elements of the spiritual and supernatural.

The film is less about the plot and more about the philosophy. The interviews express a variety of viewpoints on angels and demons, good and evil, life and loss, God and the world, and more. While it’s an interesting discussion, the movie relies too much on talking heads to express these viewpoints, and not enough on action. Much of the film consists of interviews and anecdotes, while more action-based plot elements, such as Jason being harassed by some unknown entity and ultimately fearing for his safety, are only briefly touched on, then quickly forgotten.

The film is also disjointed. In parts, this is a good thing and an effective storytelling tool. An important moment or character will be introduced, then a little later, the film will go back and show the sequence of events that led up to it. But, as the movie goes on, it just feels like more and more of the scenes that could provide background were left out entirely. All-in-all, this makes it difficult to keep up with Jason’s findings and what’s going on with the search at any given time.

The spiritual and philosophical issues discussed in the movie are often somewhat vague, but they nonetheless raise some thought-provoking questions. What are angels, and does “angel” necessarily mean “good?" What, exactly, constitutes a cult, and is it always something bad? Those who are interested in questions of philosophy and spirituality might find this movie and its themes worth checking out; however, those hoping for an action-packed film about the discovery of a cult and its mysterious secrets will likely be disappointed.

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 28 December 2018 18:05

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