Candid Cinema

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul’ Review

In Adamma Ebo’s directorial feature debut, she makes a bold statement with her flashy direction and strong storytelling between two lenses. We meet the proud first lady of a Southern Baptist megachurch, Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall) who carries immense responsibility on her shoulders. Her church, ‘Wander To Greater Paths’, once served a congregation in the tens of thousands, but after a scandal involving her husband, Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown), forced the church to close temporarily, Trinitie is struggling to manage the aftermath. Now Trinitie and Lee-Curtis must rebuild their congregation and reconcile their faith by all means necessary to make the biggest comeback that commodified religion has ever seen.

I truly didn’t know what to expect going into this film but I was pleasantly surprised with how much fun this was while addressing the constructs of religion. What I really appreciated was how Ebo told this story on two different plains in order to get a firm grasp of the difference in perspective for her characters. From a technical aspect, the change in aspect ratio was used effectively to show the difference behind the scenes and what was going to be used in the mockumentary. The visual cue for the audience was very clear and added so much to the story. As the film went on, we see the lines blur a bit because first lady Trinitie and Pastor Lee Curtis Childs both lose their sense of self on this journey.

Ebo pulled out great performances from Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown. They both brought such an energetic and lively presence to the screen. Whether it was faking it for the mockumentary or expressing themselves behind the scenes, they were electric and they made you listen to their every word. Both of their performances were incredibly strong, but Regina Hall slightly edged Brown because of the range of emotions she explored with her character. Trinitie is a woman who has been through so much with her husband and has been cast aside, while he gets the credit. After the scandal, she stays with him, and it shows the strength she has to fight for her marriage. However, he still doesn’t recognize the work that she puts into the congregation and their marriage.

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul is funny and entertaining all the way through. There are really great moments between Hall and Brown. They are such a good pairing and they definitely need to do another film together because their chemistry was incredible. Ebo also dives into the facade of religion and belief through the scandal in this film. The scandal is covered up and then there is a redemption arc for Childs’ because that’s how he makes a living. Showing this and highlighting the way the corporations can cover up these scandals through a mockumentary style film was incredibly interesting and worked for the story.

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