"The Fruit of the Spirit"
What You Need To Know:
Although this movie doesn't mention Jesus Christ in a reverential way, it does talk about prayer, church and shows a person who manifests God’s grace. Evelyn is the real spiritual core of this movie. Julianne Moore does a great job in portraying this woman who manifests the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Although the movie contains too much foul language, it demonstrates Christian love.
(CC, BBB, Ab, LL, V, N, AA, D, M) Strong Christian worldview about a woman who manifests God's love with strong references to prayer and church as well as many moral points, including staying with your marriage and loving your family, but no overt acknowledgement of Jesus Christ, a weak priest and a husband who curses; six obscenities and 19 profanities, most are exclamatory; man has car accident and gets glass in neck, woman falls on broken milk bottle glass shards, man throws several temper tantrums, and pushing and shoving; very light hugging and kissing within marriage; nude baby and woman in lingerie, but very mild; drinking to get drunk; smoking; and, fiscal irresponsibility rebuked, male chauvinism rebuked, and patience and love commended.
THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO is the true story of a housewife and mother who manifested Christian love and the fruit of the Spirit while supporting a family of 10 children and placating her angry, abusive husband. At first blush, the movie seems to be an anti-husband, feminist story, but the truth of the matter is, that it is a very Christian story of a long-suffering, faithful wife who prays for and with her children and who finds joy in the midst of adversity.
Evelyn Ryan has 10 children. Her wannabe crooning husband has his singing career cut short when he got into a car accident and a piece of glass goes into his throat. Not only is he so angry about his misfortune that he becomes an alcoholic, but also he is barely able to make ends meet for his wife and 10 children as a machinist.
Evelyn, on the other hand, is almost always joyous and has an unique gift for advertising jingles. To put her gift into context, during a brief period of time in the 50s, TV advertisers held contests for people to come up with jingles. Evelyn won more of these contests than anyone, even though she was often competing against over one million contestants.
The real story of the movie, however, is how Evelyn bears up under all the trials and tribulations and even finds good in them. When her daughter, Tuff, who wrote the book upon which the movie is based, complains about how horrible her father Kelly, the husband, is, Evelyn tells her to forgive him and to see the good in every situation. In her last jingle, she says that every time she passes a church, she goes inside so that God will know her when she comes out feet first. She encourages her children to pray, and her prayers are answered, and each one of her children grows up to have a good life, some in prominent careers.
Woody Harrelson does a tremendous job as Kelly. In a sense, he makes the movie. He throws some powerful temper tantrums, but more than that, the audience can see him struggling to love his family in spite of his anger. Julianne Moore has less of a character arc, but does a great job in portraying this woman who manifests the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The movie has an interesting construction, which sometimes works well and sometimes distances the audience. That construction is that Evelyn speaks directly to the audience to help them understand the context of story. This technique may succeed for many people, but sometimes it distances the viewer from the story.
That said, THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO is very close to a four star movie. The audience laughs, cries and empathizes with Julianne Moore’s character. In fact, it’s the type of movie that makes viewers want to be a better person.
The problem with the movie is that Kelly curses. Some of his curses are almost violent exclamatory appeals to God, but others are downright vile profanities. Kelly doesn’t use many obscenities, but the profanities pepper his conversation, especially when he’s throwing a temper tantrum.
Although this movie doesn’t mention Jesus Christ in a reverential way, it does talk about prayer, church and features a heroine who definitely manifests the fruit of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace. Also, although the priest is a weak character whose breath smells like Kelly’s, Evelyn is the real spiritual minister in this movie, and for those who have eyes to see, this is an exemplary Christian story.