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The Independent Critic

Timothy Threlfall, Pam Eichner, Aley Underwood, Lindsay Bird
Christian Vuissa
Rated PG
89 Mins.
Covenant Communications

 "One Good Man" Review 

I am a man of faith.

Faith is central to my shapes every cell of my existence and guides virtually every decision I make.

Sometimes, it is not so obvious I am a man of faith.

I can be moody.

I can be isolative and grumpy and rude and crude.

Christian Vuissa, writer/director of "One Good Man," understands people like me. Having quickly established himself as one of the faith world's most authentic and promising directors, Vuissa succeeds where so many directors of faith fail...he strips away the glossy facade and delves inside the richness of the faith experience for the common, everyday human being with a gentle touch, a knowing glance, a hearty laugh and a shower of love.

"One Good Man" is a simple film.

It does not require tremendous thought nor does it require intellectual gymnastics.

"One Good Man" does require, however, a sense of faith for it to be fully embraced. While Vuissa's first full-length feature, "Baptists at our Barbecue," was considerably more accessible to a wider audience, his last two films, "The Errand of Angels" and this film, have been heartfelt and inspiring films in which faith is unabashedly front and center.

Vuissa, founder and organizer of the LDS Film Festival in Utah, finds God in the richness of our humanity and he celebrates it in his films.

With "One Good Man," Vuissa has once again taken us inside the very real journey of one man, Aaron Young (Timothy Threlfall), quietly doing what fathers of true faith do...balancing work, his family, his faith and his multitude of responsibilities.

It could have been tempting for Vuissa to dramatize Aaron's plight or, on the flip side, to turn it into a humorous adventure. Certainly, this approach would have made it more market-friendly.

If there's one thing I've learned about Vuissa, however, through three film reviews and an interview on The Independent Critic, it's that Vuissa's artistic integrity and faith will always shine through.

Threlfall, who sort of resembles David Strathairn, embodies beautifully a man whose everyday life is a quest to follow God's will while dutifully loving and serving his family and honoring his work place. There are moments, especially between Aaron and wife Cindy (Pam Eichner) that are remarkably tender and sweet and vulnerable. Nearing their 25th wedding anniversary, Aaron and Cindy are adjusting to their maturing six children including the troubled Amanda (Aley Underwood), the soon to be wed Laura (Lindsay Bird) and their remaining children.

During a Q&A session at the 2009 LDS Film Festival, Vuissa referred to "One Good Man" as "Bourne Identity for Mormons." Now then, before anyone could start thinking that we may very well have our first Mormon action flick, Vuissa was quick to point out that "One Good Man" is about a very ordinary man who's dodging life's many bullets.

Funny, yet perfect description of "One Good Man."

Along with Threlfall's beautiful performance, Pam Eichner excels as the loyal and ever present wife whose entire life is changed when Aaron is called to be a Bishop. On top of his calling, Aaron's employer is demanding that he coordinate lay-offs, his eldest daughter is getting married, one son is returning from mission and another son is preparing for mission while yet another daughter struggles to find her place in the world.

Have I mentioned the estranged future in-laws who cautiously regard the Mormon Church as a cult?

Again, Vuissa proves that he's willing to face the truth, or other's perception of the truth, through the eyes of faith.

The supporting cast is strong across the board, most notably Aley Underwood's marvelous turn as the troubled Amanda and a sweet, low-key performance from Lindsay Bird as the future bride.

Filmed on a shoestring budget, the tech credits for "One Good Man" are rock solid throughout the film with special kudos offered to Robert Allen Elliott's spot-on perfect original score and the pristine cinematography of Brandon Christensen that magnificently captures the wonder of Utah.

Honest, tender, simple and real...these are all words to describe the new film from Christian Vuissa, "One Good Man." The best word of all?


© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic