Alive Mind // 2008 // 52 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 30th, 2009
One man's journey across America to find God.
I guess you can call this that other documentary about a guy running around the country talking to religious believers. Here, however, Simon Cole, a successful advertising executive, takes a genuine interest in getting the lowdown on the various belief structures of the American people.
His journeys take him into encounters with Catholics, Evangelicals, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Mormons, and Free Thinkers. They're all on the buffet and Cole picks each of their brains to pinpoint exactly what he's looking for...God. But how does one know if one's found God? What does it feel like? And how does it rectify the big questions of evil and sin that still lurk within? Cole wrestles with these questions, drawing upon a multitude of experts, laypersons, regular old churchgoers, and even a hooker to help feed his search.
That's pretty much the film, all 52 minutes of it. So Help Me God is a simple endeavor that tackles humongous issues and, to Cole's credit, it never seems like he's having a laugh at anyone's expense. No matter who he talks to, from a learned minister to a salt-of-the-earth big tent revivalist, he takes what they have to say seriously. The dude honestly wants to get to the bottom of this God thing, compelled by some force -- intellectual curiosity or spiritual draw -- to sort it out once and for all.
SPOILER WARNING -- By the end of the film he does arrive at a conclusion. While we may never know if the whole thing was a foregone conclusion, it certainly feels like an authentic spiritual journey. Granting Cole the benefit of the doubt that he went into this thing with an open mind, his endpoint definitely feels earned. He grappled with the issues, asked the questions, collected his evidence, and arrived at a conclusion. Best of all, he wasn't a smartass about it.
The big questions that befuddle Cole (and most everyone) are familiar -- a world full of evil, salvation through only one belief system, human origins. Though the answers he gets aren't terribly deep, showing a dearth of intellectual orthodoxy, they are honest and so was he. That's good enough. Agree or disagree with the result of Simon Cole's journey, it's very much his journey, intensely personal and strikingly vulnerable. A very nice little documentary.
The DVD isn't quite as nice. The okay picture quality is hamstrung by the full-frame presentation (fake widescreen at that) and don't expect much fireworks from the 2.0 stereo mix. Worse, nothing for extras.
Not Guilty. Good God, y'all!
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Alive Mind
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 52 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated