Blessed Art Thou
Bernard Hill, Paul Guilfoyle, Daniel Von Bargen, Naveen Andrews, Joe Spano, Martha Hackett
Tim Disney, Bill Haney, Edward R. Pressman, Claudio Rocha, Nancy Richardson, John Iacovelli, Stephen James Taylor
Rarely does the name of a production completely capture the elusive essence of a film as does Blessed Art Thou's Uncommon Productions. Miracles, or any sort of spiritual inquiry, are seldom the focus of independent work, and that is only one of a number of reasons why this is a unique and fresh film as you will see this year.
Based on a short story that director/writer Tim Disney could not get out of his mind, Blessed Art Thou is an account of a monastery in the heart of California wine country which, with its centuries-old tradition of ritual, discipline and solitude has for the most part maintained a degree of insularity from the intrusions of the secular world. This is not completely possible, however, because the production of high-quality vintages, the business of running a seemingly outmoded institution, the turnover in the membership of the order, and other worldly concerns have definitely affected the traditional structure and stability of the community. And so when a member of the order experiences a miraculous encounter, the implications are significant and surprisingly fractious. A community customarily full of serenity and piety must grapple with the fundamental tension between faith and reason, but the results for us are sublime.
Without heavy-handed evangelizing or patronizing mysticism, Disney and his colleagues mold a lushly pastoral universe that is both invigorating and thoroughly beguiling. Part modern parable, part critique of institutional complacency, Blessed Art Thou is a stirring, sometimes ironic, yet ultimately fulfilling work of great conscience and intelligence.