Film Reviews with Sister Rose


This fragile gem of a documentary seems to have been hiding on Netflix since it was made available in 2019. Directed by Oscar winner Orlando von Einsiedel, this film is a pilgrimage made in honor of his brother, Evelyn, who took his life in 2004. Now on the 13th anniversary of his death, Orlando, his sister, Gwennie, and brother Robin retrace some of the beautiful hiking trails in England, Wales, and the Hebrides that their brother loved. The monthlong journey includes their divorced mother, Beta, for part of the walk; their German-born father, Andreas, and his second wife join later.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens, Evelyn went on to medical school, but one day it all became too much. After a day spent looking, the family discovered his body in the garden. He left a note that they read along the way—something that is almost impossible to get through. From family videos, we see that Evelyn was a beautiful boy and a high-spirited adolescent who loved to skateboard.

As a camera captures the family’s conversations, we learn that this is the first time they have talked about Evelyn’s death and how it impacted them. Though they must be conscious of the camera’s presence, they are honest with each other without being sentimental. When Andreas throws a fit at a restaurant because of bad service, Gwennie takes him to task, knowing there are issues driving his behavior. What emerges is that this flawed family loved Evelyn and they love one another, despite their grief.

Along the way, the pilgrims meet others whose lives have been changed by suicide. One young man tells how his mother died by suicide because she believed no one cared about her. A former soldier tells of losing three of his former comrades to suicide after returning from the Middle East. As viewers, these moments seem somewhat staged, but the authenticity of these stories of love, loss, and grief is palpable. At one point, the three siblings jump into a pool along the shores of an island in the Hebrides, something Evelyn liked to do. It’s as if they are reborn.

At the time the film was made, suicide was the leading cause of death for British males under the age of 45. The film advocates for better mental health services and offers a help line for anyone in crisis. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available in English and Spanish: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

I was deeply moved by the simplicity of this gentle film and the courage it took to make it. It drew out my compassion for those who consider suicide as their only option, as well as the loved ones left behind.

Not yet rated, Family bickering, grief, talk of suicide.

Film Reviews with Sister Rose

Yes Day

Allison (Jennifer Garner) is fearless! From childhood she says yes to every adventure, especially when, as a young woman, she meets Carlos Torres (Edgar Ramírez). Their love for fun and adventure draws them together and they marry.

Some 15 years later, however, Allison has become a “no” kind of mother. She has three children, 14-year-old Katie (Jenna Ortega), and the younger kids, Nando (Julian Lerner) and Ellie (Everly Carganilla). She is constantly telling them no, from keeping them safe as toddlers to not giving Katie permission to go to her first concert without a parent.

Carlos spends most of his time at work, so Allison is the one always saying no. Allison learns about a parenting trend, where families have a “yes day.” Mom and Dad have to say yes to everything the kids want to do for 24 hours—with some ground rules. The kids give their parents a rule too: They are not allowed to use their cell phones, though it is Katie’s cell phone that leads to the one part of the film that truly moved me.

Garner gives such a high-energy performance in the opening scenes of the film that it made me think it could be her last action role. In many ways this is a typical family film with a simple premise. Everyone in a family has something to learn and something to sacrifice for the good of all. The role of the cell phone in the family’s life could be a catalyst for honest conversations at the dinner table. The singer H.E.R. makes an appearance and becomes part of the adventure. Yes Day is available on Netflix.

Not yet rated, PG, Slight peril.

Film Reviews with Sister Rose


Continuing the story of Jesus that began with their 2014 feature film Son of God, producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have gone into the film archives at MGM and LightWorks studios to create a feature film about the resurrection of Jesus. The COVID-19 pandemic limited further original filming.

To set the stage, the film begins with the events of Good Friday, including the encounter between Jesus (Juan Pablo Di Pace) and Pilate, the crucifixion, and his burial in a borrowed tomb. Pilate places a guard at the tomb to make sure Jesus does not rise—as he had foretold. Then, on Easter morning, Mary Magdalen (Chipo Chung) discovers the empty tomb and meets the risen Lord in the garden. Peter (Adam Levy) plays a key role in the story, but we don’t see as much as we might expect of Mary, mother of Jesus (Greta Scacchi).

Resurrection follows the Gospels fairly closely, and the film is a good watch for the family seeking inspiration during Holy Week and the Easter Triduum. The film is streaming on Discovery+.

Not yet rated, Graphic crucifixion scene.

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