(2 / 5)
While the world sits in isolation, Netflix and Hollywood attempt to dig into their archives to find films that might grab audiences. They found a project from 2017 from the director and philanthropist Paco Arango that went to support children with cancer called The Healer. The proceeds from the film would go to helping sick children in conjunction with the camps founded by Paul Newman.
The fantastical journey begins in England where Alex Bailey (Oliver Jackson Cohen) has been struggling since the death of his twin brother, Charlie. His electrical repair business is suffering from his neglect because of his womanising and gambling issues. In debt and on the verge of losing all he owns, he is invited to a private club by a distant uncle, Raymond Heacock (Jonathan Pryce). This stranger introduced himself and offered to pay off all of his debts, if Alex would be willing to move to Nova Scotia, Canada, to live for a year. With nothing left for him in Britain, he took his uncle’s offer and moved to North America.
In the odd and remote village of Halifax, he comes to discover that he has a family gift of healing. The self-centred and overwhelmed electrician begins to realise that anyone who comes into contact with him is healed of whatever is ailing them. His uncle and the local veterinarian, Cecilia (Camilla Luddington) try to help him through the shock of this unique skill and determining if he should keep it. Despite the encouragement and guidance, Alex comes to the reality he cannot handle this responsibility and wants to be rid of it completely.
Then he meets Abigail (Kaitlyn Bernard), a teenaged girl with terminal cancer. She does not believe the Englishman has the gift of healing, but she wants to pacify her parents. They have hope that Alex can heal their daughter, if only he would spend some time with her. Reluctantly, Alex hands out with Abigail at Cecilia’s farm and in a short time, both the healer and the teen begin to change.
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This is a film that is packaged like a Christian television production, but with a bit of foul language and sexual tension. A mixture that makes this movie difficult to categorise, because it has a moral centre with hints of a Hollywood script. The story looks to be a story of redemption and the use of unwarranted gifts, then it turns into a muddled tale of confusion.
The first act provides the proper set up for an endearing and magical journey for a lost soul. Oliver Jackson Cohen proves to embody the broken man who needs saving from himself. Jonathan Pryce and Camilla Luddington manage to fulfil the roles of mentor and love interest, but they could not keep things from going off the rails as the screenplay progresses. The set up is reminiscent of a pilot of a quirky sitcom, but every humorous and engaging element falls over on itself by the third act. This is especially true during the spiritual aspects that do have promise, but implode in conclusion.
The Healer does have some entertaining aspects to offer those looking for a peculiar and light-hearted story while in isolation. Where it will fail audiences is providing a satisfactory outcome to this magical story construction. There might be a reason why it was buried for years and only now being released to the public.
Reel Dialogue: Can we explain the supernatural?
Even though this film has glaring weaknesses, it does open the door to the discussions of faith, the supernatural and God. It was like going through a poorly executed lesson in apologetics. Father Malloy was trying to explain God to Alex throughout the film, but the experiences serve a minimal purpose. When the healer eventually goes on a rant against God, the solution seems to be that man dictates what he wants from God. In the end, the film does fail to explain much about the supernatural or God.
This extensive discussion needs more specifics than a film review will allow. What the audience should know is that the Bible is logical, practical and accessible without belief. Also, people should understand that some things cannot be explained by science or logic. Some things in life go beyond our imaginations and our abilities. This aspect of life should not be something that is feared as much as embraced. The challenge is looking for the answers to the unexplainable and supernatural. A great place to start is the Bible. Give it a try, it might surprise you with the answers.
Where to start? The Gospel according to Luke