Free in Deed

Free in Deed

(2015)

Drama based on actual events of a lonely minister who starts to lose control when a single mother brings her young, wounded child to church for a miracle cure. Winner of the Venice Horizons Award in 2015.... More

Set in the distinctive world of storefront churches, and based on actual events, depicts one man’s attempts to perform a miracle. When a single mother brings her young boy to church for healing, this lonely pentecostal minister is forced to confront the seemingly incurable illness of the child... and his own demons as well. The more he prays, the more things seem to spiral out of his control.Hide

Flicks Review

Out of all the nominees for Best Film & Director at the 2017 New Zealand Film Awards, Jake Mahaffy’s feature was the one to make people go: “I have never heard of this but my God it looks good.” And it certainly is. Free in Deed uses a true story to sink us into one of America’s poorest districts, showing the screws that lock people of colour down to the ground. From unforgiving employment to uncaring law enforcement, Mahaffy’s depiction of this apathetic world is uncomfortably raw on an I, Daniel Blake level.... More

A small Memphis church is the only place that promises relief and it’s where Abe (David Harewood), a ‘miracle healer’, seeks redemption for a dark past. A single mother (Edwina Findley) of two takes her mentally ill son to Abe, an act of desperation when life stretches her limits beyond reason. Both characters have nothing left but the promise of faith, a fact that means everything in the film’s final moments.

It’s an undeniably compassionate experience, but not quite a crushing one. The light script doesn’t have the strength to aid the rest of the film’s solid grip. Aside from Harewood’s perfectly aged and worn-down expression, we’re given little of Abe’s history. Findley carries her character’s decline with total conviction, even though the role remains constantly one-note throughout. At least the acting is consistently mighty, especially from the staggeringly great RaJay Chandler as the autistic child in need.

For viewers like me, you’ll always be kept at arm’s length. Others may catch themselves embracing everything the film does so damn well. If there’s one guarantee, it’s that Mahaffy’s visual melancholy will melt into your skin. The images that linger the longest are those of a church that feel so open, so empty, and so harshly bright.Hide


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The Press Reviews

  • Mahaffy works with the gifted Ava Berkofsky to present a darkly authentic view of working-class Memphis, broadly capturing the region’s distressed, makeshift urban construction... Full Review

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