Case Number 19800: Small Claims Court


Sony // 2009 // 95 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 30th, 2010

The Charge

A journey home. A faith restored.

The Case

Corbin Bernsen enters into the surging Christian filmmaking market with this meditation on faith.

Bernsen (who producers, writes and directs) stars as James Moore, a minister who has shed his faith, unable to get past the thorny question of "Why does a seemingly benevolent Creator allow bad things to happen?" So he returns to his rural hometown and is stunned to discover some truly bad news: a house fire killed a local family and James's childhood friend has been charged with the slaying.

James takes it upon himself to dig through the case and unearth the truth and along the way he learns a bit more about his belief system.

What to make of Rust? Well, it's easy to see how intensely personal a project this is for Bernsen. It is also unabashedly Christian in its message, dealing in the themes of purpose and redemption.

However, it falls a few degrees short of becoming something truly memorable. As it stands now, Rust is a well-made, somber affair and could almost pass as Bernsen's biopic. In fact, that's not very far off the mark as his commentary reflects how close to home the character arc hit for him.

The film materialized when Bernsen's father passed away, prompting him to think long and hard about the afterlife and his role in the world. This is all hard-hitting stuff and for the most part, it lands on the screen. But a lethargic pacing and a mystery that doesn't measure up as the central narrative engine hold Rust back from truly soaring.

Please note that I'm not using the "it's good for a Christian movie." I more than appreciate the weighty material that Bernsen grapples with and noticeable lack of corniness. And while the Christian message is not shied away from, it's not wielded like an axe either; you won't be preached at with this movie.

After listening to Bernsen's commentary and watching his stirring behind-the-scenes featurettes, I ultimately realized that those elements -- Corbin Bernsen explaining why he made the film -- proved to be more moving than the film itself.

Sony's DVD presentation is effective: a nice 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.0 Dolby Digital (English, Portuguese, Thai), commentary, deleted scenes and four making-of featurettes.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. But not quite the sentimental homerun it could have been.

Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround (Thai)

* English
* English (SDH)
* Chinese
* French
* Korean
* Portuguese
* Spanish
* Thai

Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurettes

* IMDb