Reviewed by a CG Staff Reporter
As I entered the auditorium moments before showtime, I encountered a warm wave of familiarity. The auditorium was quite small and nearly empty – only four other patrons were seated. And as the story of The Most Reluctant Convert began to unfold, that feeling of familiarity became even greater. I was swept back to my college days in Lincoln, Nebraska, and to the many hours I spent solo in the small yet elegant theater within the Sheldon Museum of Art. Those hours had given me the opportunity to review critically fifty classic American and foreign films, all remarkable works of art, and to meet the requirements of Dr. June P. Levine’s unforgettable “Film, Theory and Critic” course.
So what was it that transported me back to that fall semester so many years ago? I have no doubt that it was this film’s simple, relatable, and inspiring story, delivered through wonderful acting, costuming, filming, pacing and dialogue – a story personally familiar to many of us – the story of believing in God as a child, turning away from our faith as a young adult, and then turning fervently back to our Lord Jesus Christ later in life.
The Most Reluctant Convert is based on a successful stage play/monologue written by Max McLean, and it features McLean as an elderly C.S. “Jack” Lewis, who walks viewers back through key moments in his younger years.
Lewis’ ultimate return to Christianity was a journey to be sure, with twists and turns not unlike the challenges all of us face during our own lives.
Lewis’ ultimate return to Christianity was a journey to be sure, with twists and turns not unlike the challenges all of us face during our own lives. We empathize with Jack as he faces the loss of his mother. We want to warn Jack as we see that his education is not rooted in faith. We feel sadness as Jack loses his faith entirely, becomes an ardent atheist and reasoned materialist, and even explores the occult. We celebrate when he forms friendships with Oxford contemporaries and Christians J.R.R. Tolkien and Owen Barfield. And we rejoice with Jack’s return to faith. This is a thoughtful, inspiring, and inviting movie that can likely be enjoyed by non-Christians and Christians alike, as it presents the understandable struggle of a brilliant and articulate man grappling with the idea of God’s existence. The film is a beautifully nuanced experience, to be sure, and to me it is one worth sharing with others.
CAST: Max McLean as C.S. Lewis (Older); Nicholas Ralph as C.S. Lewis (Young Man); Eddie Ray Martin as C.S. Lewis (Child); Tom Glenister as J.R.R. Tolkien; Hubert Burton as Owen Barfield
DIRECTOR: Norman Stone
Reviewer’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. A concise yet complete and compelling story of the great writer’s fascinating life journey from Christianity, to atheism, and back again to Christianity