Come Sunday review: Thoughtful examination of faith

Photo: Tina Rowden via Netflix Media Center, Come Sunday
Photo: Tina Rowden via Netflix Media Center, Come Sunday /

Featuring another fantastic performance from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Come Sunday is an effective look at a famed preacher turned pariah.

The track record for religious-based movies has been less then stellar over the past decade. While the success of God’s Not Dead, Heaven is for Real, and War Room have popularized the genre today, most of these films are more concerned with pandering to religious audiences rather than crafting a good film.

Looking to change the tide is Netflix’s latest Come Sunday, which debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival. The film follows the true story of Carlton Pearson, a bishop who is praised for his passionate sermons. When he preaches one day about God telling him there is no hell, he becomes revived by the community that once adored him.

Come Sunday
Photo: Tina Rowden via Netflix Media Center, Come Sunday /

While it doesn’t quite have the impact that it should, Come Sunday is a commendable film that takes to task its subject matter of faith with thoughtfulness and honesty.

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Bringing its real-life subject to life is Chiwetel Ejiofor, who I would easily consider as one of the finest actors working today. Ejiofor’s efforts as Pearson are exemplary, as he rounds out the character with his poignant performance. He makes his endless charisma present during Pearson’s provocative preachings, but also captures the emotional weight of having the community Pearson established turn on him.

Ejiofor is surrounded by a supporting cast who matches him at every turn. Jason Segel is mostly known as the goofball from How I Met Your Mother, but is subdued performance shows his impressive range. Lakeith Stanfield however is the actor who steals the show, going toe-to-toe with Ejifor in some memorably emotional scenes. Martin Sheen, Condola Rashad, and Danny Glover are also quite good in their supporting roles.

Come Sunday isn’t a religious-based movie that panders to its audience, rather screenwriter Marcus Hinchey pens film that has a lot of nuance. Hinchey in particular is skilled at creating live-in relationships, as Pearson’s dynamics with each characters are effective in their own ways. I especially enjoyed the relationship between he and his wife (played by Rashad), as a wife who constantly feels like an outsider in Pearson’s life. I credit Hinchey for going to some dark places with the material and not painting Pearson in the most simplistic way possible.

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What derails Come Sunday from being anything special is the flat direction. Joshua Marston’s effort is restrained to the point of indifference, as it feels like there is really no one behind the camera driving the movie forward. The execution is about as conventional as it gets for a biopic, and the lack of visual flair restraints the material from flourishing as it should.

Come Sunday may not tell its intriguing story in the most inventive way, but it does capture the heart of its fascinating subject and the interesting religious questions that come alongside him.

Come Sunday is available on Netflix.