reviewed by Gary A. Braunbeck
God is Alone is a 2004 indie film written and directed by Jason Torrey. It's about a young man named William who, along with his deaf sister Amy, endures a great deal of abuse from their father. After William loses his job, he sees a girl abandoning a baby in a dumpster; he tries to help the baby, and the film chronicles the disaster that follows. On a symbolic level, the film is basically an update of the story of the birth of Christ.
I thought that Monique Farrar, the actress who played Amy, was superb--I don't recall the last time I saw a face so naturally and deeply, deeply sad; of all the actors in the film, she was the only one who I felt wasn't "acting"--she was natural and effortless and heartbreaking as hell.
Other reviewers have criticized the movie for having far too many scenes of William walking around. I agree (though I can undertand, to an extent, why Torrey chose to do this), but even if I hadn't liked it overall, I would still recommend that people watch it for the extraordinary "coffee-making" scene that comes about 2/3 of the way through.
The coffee scene accomplishes everything that good film storytelling should accomplish; it adds depth to the character, it has real poignancy, it's nerve-wracking as hell in context, and ultimately incredibly sad.
The entire sequence, from the time her father pours the coffee on the table right up until Amy falls asleep in her bedroom is--in my opinion--perfect. No flashy camera work, nothing terribly symbolic, just one person in a great deal of quiet pain and fear trying to keep herself from being further abused, then retreating into memories of the past in order to make coping with the present more endurable.
There's a lot of subtle pain and terror in that sequence, and though the rest of the film doesn't measure up to these 8 or 9 extraordinary minutes, that they exist at all is proof enough of the director's talent for me.
If you can get past some of the over-long strolls, a handful of visual self-indulgences, and some of the heavy-handed religious symbolism (that Amy was dressed in white, white, white all the time got on my nerves in short order) this is very worthwhile--though flawed--piece of filmmaking. It's a movie that isn't afraid to be exactly what it wants to be: it's the work of a single vision, so it's understandable that that vision might have gotten a little tunnel-visioned at times.
There is a scene in the movie that--as far as I can tell--serves no other purpose (speaking here from a narrative point) than for the director and his wife to put their baby daughter on-screen. But you know what? I'm a sucker for babies. The little girl is adorable, a natural for the screen if I ever saw one. Unfortunately--for the scene in question--you can't look at anyone or anything else once the baby comes on. It's not that she makes noise or draws attention to herself, it's just that she's so darned cute you don't really care about anything else.
But I want to re-emphasize something: despite my reservations about it, this is a very worthwhile film, one that shows its director as having serious intent and a talent to watch.
God is Alone is 104 minutes long and is intended for mature teens and adults.
Gary A. Braunbeck is the author of 14 books and over 150 short stories. If you enjoyed this review, check out his book Fear in a Handful of Dust: Horror as a Way of Life.