What would you ask God, if you could?
Throughout human history, people have wanted to ask God the big questions of life. ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ ‘Why is there evil in the world?’ ‘Why are you silent when I need you most?’ Even though prayer is a regular part of people’s lives from all different faiths, the desire to sit across from God and ask these and other personal questions would be on the list for many. The challenge is to know how to respond if he gave you the time for an interview.
Paul Asher (Brenton Thwaites) is an aspiring journalist who has just arrived back from being embedded in the troops in the war in Afghanistan. His assignment was to interview soldiers of faith in the battlefield, but unknown to him was the battle that would present itself when he arrived home and at the Herald where he works. While he tries to put together the pieces of his failing marriage, help one of the soldiers he befriended who is struggling with PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) and managing his career at the newspaper, Paul gets an opportunity for an interview of a lifetime, an audience with God (David Strathairn).
His first meeting is in the local park where he and his father used to play chess, as he walks up to greet the man who claims to be the creator of the world, the young writer wrestles with scepticism, his journalistic intuition and an underlying hope that this meeting is for real. As the two men work through the interview, Paul quickly realises that despite his disbelief, this man might be a deity or potentially the one and true God. Over a series of three sessions, the tables turn on the reporter and the reason for the interview is not for God to be known as much as it is a means of the troubled man getting his life right on earth and with God.
The task that screenwriter Ken Aguado and director Perry Lang are trying to achieve deserve credit for attempting an impossible task. In this multicultural realm of different faiths and the fickle Christian film market, this production team looks to set themselves up for an uphill climb to achieve critical or commercial success. They stayed the course of remaining in the realm of the Christian faith, but the attempt to get this conversation to occur in the length of a feature-length film proved to be too much. In some of the discussion points the script was too profound theologically for an average film attendee to comprehend and the rest fails to go far enough to make sense to the person searching for personal answers.
Stathairn and Thwaites both do commendable work in making these two characters appealing, vulnerable and credible, but their performances buckle under the expectation of the writing. Even though the concept and initial discussion are intriguing and tough on some of the more significant apologetic questions of this modern era, the dialogue assumes a certain level of theological knowledge for it to make sense. The quality of production goes beyond the traditional Christian film genre despite succumbing to the inevitable ‘bright light at the end of the tunnel’ element at the conclusion.
An Interview with God is a worthy project that could have worked with a bit of attention given to the target audience and a few more revisits to the screenplay. Unfortunately, this film might leave most viewers with the idea that a conversation with God would be boring and confusing, but for students of the Bible, the opposite is true.
For those who see the film, the suggestion must be not to stop there and think this is all that God has to offer, but to look into what a real conversation would be with God by reading His Word and taking time to pray. That will open the door to an exciting, life-long journey and discussion that will fulfil more than anyone could expect.
Where is a good place to start an ‘interview with God?’
1. Prayer – God is always listening
2. Open the Bible – God is always speaking (through His Word)
A few places to get started: Gospel of Luke, The Psalms, or going old school and starting at the beginning – Genesis
Trailer for the film