The decision birthed a lackluster experience that deadened the inspiring narrative into something tepid. I’m not saying the film was terrible, but with such a compelling premise, it should have been much better.
The opposite is true of The Phantom Thread, which I watched recently. I did not consider The Phantom Thread’s premise – a renowned dressmaker having his fastidious life upended by a strong-willed woman who becomes his lover and, eventually, wife – all that compelling before seeing the film, yet the story ended up being riveting and thoroughly engaging.
Some will immediately point to the acting and the uncanny chemistry between Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps, but there was more to it than that. The actors in Father Stu certainly did not hit the same notes, yet it would be unfair to claim that Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, and the others in Father Stu did not rise to the occasion.
I suppose Father Stu’s fault lies somewhere in the directing – specifically, in the storytelling aspect of direction. To return to my initial thought, the people behind Father Stu knew they had a great story – so they fell under the erroneous impression that they did not have to invest too much into its unfolding.
On the other hand, the crew behind The Phantom Thread must have sensed that they did not have much to work with. Thus, they made the most of the little that they had.
The result is one film with an engaging premise that all but falls on its face and another film with a threadbare premise that rises to the stars.
Note added: For the sake of clarity, I enjoyed Father Stu, but when the film ended, I had the distinct and disappointing impression that I should have enjoyed it more -- much more.