(TBC) Running time: 95 minutes
Director: Anthony DiBlasi
Writers: Bruce Wood, Scott Poiley
Stars: Dawn Olivieri, Mitch Ryan, Kip Pardue, Connor Christie and Jordon Woods-Robinson.
Reviewed by: Kirsty Wavish
Anthony DiBlasi’s Missionary is a powerful obsession story and one that gives me the shivers if I think about it too much. The story focuses on single mum Katharine Kingsmen (Dawn Olivieri), who is separated from her husband, Ian (Kip Pardue), after he cheated on her. She, and her son Kesley (Connor Christie), returned to her hometown to be with her mother, who recently passed away, and is struggling to make ends meet. On a day when she is helping Kesley with football practice, after Dad Ian has let his son down, two Mormon missionaries turn up in their trade mark uniform to preach the Mormon message. One of the Mormon’s , Elder Brock (Mitch Ryan), is a dab hand at football, and shows Kesley a few moves, and the beginnings of a relationship are sown, with both mum and son. Elder and Katharine quickly fall into a sexual relationship, and as his affections grow stronger, she begins to realise she’s making a mistake, particularly when she and her husband decide to give their marriage another shot. Elder’s obsession grows and is adamant that he will convince Katharine that they are right together. He goes to some extraordinary lengths to prove it, even against his Mormon companion, and some of his actions will make you shudder!!!
What I loved about this film was the pace, as you are given time to get to know the characters, understand their circumstances and how they’ve arrived at the road they’re at! By no means is this film shunning the Mormon faith and its beliefs, but more focusing on an individual who takes his faith too far, as a result, skews, and misinterprets some of the Mormon gospel to satisfy and sanction the actions he subsequently takes. The script is smooth and delivered perfectly by the cast, particularly Dawn Olivieri and Mitch Ryan, and gradually builds to the madness that ultimately occurs.
Ryan is frightening as the obsession in his character grows, and what is more terrifying is the fact he sees no wrong in what he’s doing, and his inability to accept that his relationship with Katharine is over. What is interesting is that for quite a while in the film, you do find yourself sympathising with Elder Brock and the circumstances he is in, which is a testament to the lush script laid before us. His transformation from clean cut Mormon boy to crazed psycho is a testament to Ryan, and his amazing talent as an actor. Olivieri as Katharine is both stunning and captivating, playing the single mother, struggling with her lustful emotions for Elder and her emotions for her estranged husband, who is keen to rekindle their relationship. She simply delivers her role brilliantly with a perfect balance of innocence and lust. She realises her terrible mistake and knows she has to rectify it, little does she know of the horror that would surface as a result.
When Elder’s obsession is at full whack, support groups might raise an eyebrow when one of Elder’s previous victims, claims that support groups suggest that guns are more effective than restraining orders!! Even I thought that might be a tad controversial. Nevertheless, it adds more tension to the story as Katharine tries to figure out how to rid her life of Elder’s terrifying obsession.
The story is strong, but there are a few bits that just lost it for me a little, one being a scene where Katharine’s husband Ian decides to give Elder a strong message in a diner, after Katharine admits to Ian what’s happened. In addition, some of the events leading up to the ending just felt a little clumsy in places. Despite this, I really enjoyed the film and it is a must see, even if to just appreciate the captivating performances of the two lead characters.