Writer / director Angus MacLachlan‘s “A Little Prayer” is a Southern melodrama that feels intimate and personal yet still wholly unmemorable. This small scale, slow moving story of the tension, tragedy, and secrets buried beneath the everyday pleasantries of a family in turmoil has just enough grace and charm to keep it from sinking.
Tammy (Jane Levy) and her impulsive husband David (Will Pullen) share a home with his parents Bill (David Strathairn) and Venida (Celia Weston) in the quiet town of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In a true good Southern boy fashion, David and his father have always had a close relationship (they even work together). When Bill begins to suspect that his son is having an affair with the flirtatious office secretary (Dascha Polanco), he’s torn between the desire to protect David but also his sweet and innocent daughter-in-law. This upheaval puts a great deal of stress on everyone, but it deepens the bond between Bill and Tammy.
The characters are not complex, but the dialogue is well-written with an honesty and wit that has a sophisticated realism. MacLachlan captures the human experience through his lovely expression of a relationship between a woman living with emotional pain and her caring, sympathetic father-in-law. Levy and Strathairn give beautifully nuanced performances, perfectly expressing their characters’ connection as one of friendship and familial love.
The story is slow-moving, overly sentimental, and forgettable, but “A Little Prayer” is a warm, compassionate story about empathy and connection.
By: Louisa Moore