Of Gods And Men Review

The plot of Of Gods and Men didn’t exactly enthrall me on the way to the screening. It follows a group of French Monks in Algeria, whose peaceful existence is shattered when Islamic extremists threaten their lives.

I was expecting a rather slow look at the meaning of faith, and long discussions on religion. Instead, the film look at the monks as humans, and the perfectly normal reactions that death can bring. They don’t want to leaves their friends just as much as they don’t want to abandon their God, and the long scenes of their simple life go from banal to nostalgic to upsetting as the danger increases.

What a lot of reviews have missed out on in parts Of Gods and Men is absolutely chilling. We do see the consequences of staying behind and facing the extremists, and the first meeting between the two groups is incredibly tense.  A lot has been made of the  “Swan Lake” meal scene. For me the most moving part was when an army helicopter hovered near the monastery during prayers. The men hug each other, and continue their songs, despite the rattling on the machine utterly dominating the soundtrack.  For a film where not a lot happens for large periods of time, there is absolutely no filler.

So although the plot may sound difficult, this is beautifully simple filmmaking that does have momentum. It is not just another art house film, and although challenging, is never boring. I am of a totally secular nature, but this story delves deep into the heart of humanity, and touches themes that affect us all.

9/10

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