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Father Stu


Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, Teresa Ruiz, Jacki Weaver, Malcolm McDowell, Ned Bellamy, Cody Fern, Colleen Camp

Director: Rosalind Ross

The true story of a working-class boxer, Stu Long (Wahlberg) who is forced to retire on medical advice. Travelling to Hollywood with the idea of making a new career as an actor, he is much taken by a Latina lass (Ruiz) there and converts to Catholicism with a view to marrying her.

At a crossroads, he's buttonholed in a bar by a bedraggled companion (Niko Nicotera) - a Jesus avatar? - who tells him that 'the toughest fights are the only ones worth walking into'.

In no time at all, or so it seems, Stu has decided to try for the priesthood. It's a decision that shocks his ragged divorcee mother (Weaver) and blue-collar, trailer-trash dad (Gibson) to say nothing of Stu's now-deserted girlfriend, but there's to be more than one misstep on the path to holy orders.

Gibson does great character work here, but unfortunately both Wahlberg and the film itself are more than a little dull. Not sure that the star, although it's his pet project, is really up to this role, even though he's visually perfect, down to the 50 pounds he put on for later scenes. And his dialogue is often difficult to catch.

The widescreen also seems a mistake. This is an intimate drama - a four-handkerchief weepie towards the end - that deserves a normal-ratio screen. And the best scene - in which the more down-to-earth Stu helps a nervous fellow novitiate (Fern) connect with an audience of convicts - is over all too soon.

David Quinlan

USA 2022. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by Company 3.
124 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 10 May 2022