Now approaching the holiday season we start thinking of charity, family, and love. Some donate food and some volunteer at shelters and hospitals. This time of year makes us feel the need to give to those who are less fortunate. However, Mother Teresa gave more than her charity a month or two out of the year, she served the poorest of the poor for the last 50 years of her life. Audiences get to see this inspiring journey through those years in William Riead’s Biopic The Letters.
The story begins in 2003 with Father Benjamin Draggh (Rutger Hauer) investigating events during and after Mother Teresa’s life (Juliet Stevenson), that could give the Vatican the evidence they need to award her with Beatification. During his investigation he met with her spiritual adviser, Father Celeste Van Exem (Max Von Sydow) who presented him with letters written between the two of them during the last 40 years of her life; some of the letters showed signs of her faith wavering during her time in India. With these letters he tells her story beginning in the year 1946, during her time as teacher at the Loreto Convent in Dareeling, India. She loved to teach however when she looked outside the convent she saw people starving and and dying in the streets. Regardless of race or religion she believed that God had placed her on this earth with the purpose to serve those who are less fortunate. This film is the story of how she changed the lives of those around her with her life and her love.
Juliet Stevenson gave a phenomenal performance. She made me sympathize greatly with her character, and did fairly well with her accent and mannerisms. As for the rest of the cast, their performances were quite underwhelming. The best part of the film was the story. It’s hard to not feel inspired when watching the life accomplishments of a strong, selfless woman. That being said, there was a lot that the film was lacking in. The film is predicable. We know she was a selfless woman, however knowing that the film is called “The Letters” one may believe that we would see a different side to this story. Her spiritual adviser mentions that these letters contain signs that she is loosing faith in God multiple times during the film, yet in the visual reenactments during the film the audience never see’s any signs of her faith wavering. Which leaves us wondering “why mention it”? The film was a bit slow and could have been laid out in a more appealing way, however this does not mean you should not see it. If you believe technical and cinematic aspects of films come second to an inspiring story, then I would suggest giving this film a watch. The life of Mother Teresa is enlightening and may affect the way you see the life you have. You can see The Letters in theaters on December 4th.
2 1/2 out of 5 stars.