That's a Wrap

Notes From the Austin Film Festival and Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference


D: Martin Duffy; with Jonathan Pryce, Ian Bannen, John-Paul Macleod.

Kudos to the filmmakers of The Testimony of Taliesin Jones for crafting a well-meaning film that explores the nature of religious faith without ever lapsing into moments of Hollywood-induced cynicism. Shame on them, too, for replacing true conflict with a serious dose of cinematic treacle devoid of motivation and character. This lusciously photographed drama uses its Welsh countryside setting to bolster a tale as old as nature itself: whether or not miracles exist and how one comes to experience them. The title character is a precocious 12-year-old boy struggling with his parents' separation who, through the inspiration of his piano teacher (the great Bannen in his final performance), decides to counter his community's religious malaise by forming a gang of "Believers" who spread the miracles of God. Testimony has its heart in the right place and tries to make a point somewhere along the way about endurance in the face of defeat, but by the time Taliesin encounters a magical dragon, I found myself hoping for a bit of divine intervention on behalf of the stupendously overearnest screenplay. Unfortunately, that intervention never makes it to the screen, nor does the film ever move out of that New Age realm of faux spiritualism occupied by the likes of Touched by an Angel. (The Testimony of Taliesin Jones won the AFF Feature Film competition.)

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