Audience of One

4 out of 5 stars
PASTOR AND SERVANTS Gazowsky, center, imagines a cast of thousands.
PASTOR AND SERVANTS Gazowsky, center, imagines a cast of thousands.

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Even the greatest filmmakers need a high capacity for self-delusion, but it’s one thing to dream big and another to assume that God will save you from budget overruns and incompetence-related production delays. Praying for a miracle is more or less the only strategy of Pastor Richard Gazowsky, a Pentecostal preacher from San Francisco who, with no filmmaking training, sets out to direct a Christian epic with a budget he eventually projects at $200 million—a 65mm, futuristic version of the biblical story of Joseph that he describes as “Star Wars meets The Ten Commandments.”

Gazowsky, who allegedly saw his first movie at the age of 40, claims he’s making this cinematic opus exclusively for God, but eventually it becomes clear that the audience of one is Gazowsky himself. The key to this not-unsympathetic documentary is that director Michael Jacobs takes his time in clarifying the film’s loyalties. At first, we’re led to think we’re in for a funny, affectionate portrayal of eccentricity, and that this true-believing Ed Wood might pull it off. But as equipment malfunctions and debt piles up, it becomes clear the actual subject is the dangerously empowering nature of fanaticism. If you’re convinced a higher power is pitching in, why would you quit? It’s a shame, really—Gravity: The Shadow of Joseph looked promising.—Ben Kenigsberg

Opens Fri; Anthology. Find showtimes

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