Friday, June 30, 2017


Directed By: Tommy O’Haver 
Written By: Tommy O’Haver & Irene Turner 
Cinematography By: Armando Salas 
Editor: Michael X. Flores 

Cast: Melissa Leo, Juno Temple, Josh Lucas, Vincent Karthesier, Adam Scott, Brandon Mychal Smith, Rory Cochrane, Michael Chernus, Alex Frost, Jose Zuniga, Sally Kirkland, Anna Camp, Peter Fonda 

A true story of the much debated rise and demise of a woman, named Madalyn Murray O'Hair, who was known as the head atheist activist of America. She founded the organization, American Atheist, and held the position of president within the organization for 23 years. Quickly this woman became the most loathed person in the country.

With a title like that you have a lot to live up to and while the story has It's moments. It never really comes close to it. Sure it is a headline that was used but seems more sensationalistic than anything just like this film.

Which sticks way too close to the facts of the story that it never seems to have an original idea until the third act. It comes across as cheeky in the beginning. Yet feels like it has no creativity of It's own. So that it has no flair and feels like a reiteration if facts that you might be able to research yourself and have for fun doing so.

There might be more dialogue and Interpersonal relationships as well as humor but it still feels way to dry and. It in a good way. I won't lie, before this film I knew very little going in or out the character and I believe that might be the best way to go into the film. As in the beginning the film is quick and informative but constantly feels like are dramatization from shows of the 80's such as UNSOLVED MYSTERIES or AMERICA'S MOST WANTED. Only with actors who are way too good for the material.

Where the roles seem to be played big as that is the way they are presented. As Star Melissa Leo who is good but seems Rather grand standing throughout.

So that after awhile everyone feels more like they are playing to their costumes and make-up. Which then feels distracting and shows the disappointing quality of the films costumes and minor special effects. Then again there seems to be no subtlety to any of the performances. The film never quite wins you over, you just get used to it and it's pace and rhythm. Considering the material and a film not to mention script built it seems more around the lead performance. This seems the type of film that would be headed for a cable channel. though the noticeable lack of budget may have kept it in the more straight to streaming platform.

The film has the material as the true story is fascinating and has to go certain places to follow with the facts of the story but it never comes alive. It comes off as rather bland and basic until the third act. Which then makes the film come alive. Like it was saving it's energy up to that point.

In that third act it is so dramatically different from the rest of the film. As it is introduced in a more startlingly jarring way that feels more inventive. As we fast forward then Back track rather then tell the events in a linear way.

The first half of the film is so comedic and tries to be playful with Leo's performance. That it feels like a freight train moving forward where even if it wants to stop it is going to keep moving and go over. It takes time to get it to slow down nevertheless stop. Though that seems to be the usual when it comes to Melissa Leo performances as she excels at playing strong and strong willed women.  

The portrait paid to her is of a tough talking rebel who thought outside the box, but as not above pocketing some funds for herself. Which doesn't make her necessary a villain. Nor does it paint her as someone who deserved her ultimate fate. She was just challenging and unlikeable. Even though she had a soft and nurturing spot for those who were similar outcasts.

So that the third act feels much more heavier and sorrowful, that it almost feels deeply depressing. Especially when you are left to contemplate the events. Cause and effect. That showcases the unpredictable nature of evil and greed.

What feels most disappointing is that director Tommy O'Haver had previously made the film AN AMERICAN CRIME. which was a pretty good true crime movie. That also dealt with facts of a well known case. Which was miles ahead of this film. Which makes me wonder was he boxed in by restraints of budget? As this is ok but on the rather disappointing side.

The reason for this is that the film never takes us in. It never fully nurtures us there is no intimacy. What we see is what we get. It’s the difference between talking and telling. It is talking and seems lien it is telling us things but there is no real conversation. It's more talking AT the audience instead of TO the audience.

Grade: C

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