Coming to theaters this Friday from writer/director William Riead and FreeStyle Releasing is the brilliant story behind one of the world’s most loving women who wrote “The Letters.”
Mother Teresa (Juliet Stevenson) was a woman who wanted to help where ever she felt God would lead her. During her time at the Loreto Convent, then Sister Teresa knew her calling was greater than what was behind the walls of the Convent. Constantly at odds with the Mother General, Sister Teresa knew she would have to reach higher.
Getting the permission of her superiors, Sister Teresa went out among the people trying to help in the Calcutta slums of India. At first she would be met with resistance that would, at times, shake her faith, yet she continued.
As the villages began to except her, more and more people needed her help. Finding a bigger place and accepting young women from the Loreto Convent and becoming Mother Teresa. In the midst of the blessings is the story of one woman’s mission to bring out the best in humanity and herself.
Stevenson as Mother Teresa has the remarkable ability to share ever aspect of herself with this character. The facial expressions of love, joy, fear and uncertainty are beautifully done by Stevenson. Her interactions with her fellow cast members brings out stellar performances in all. There is such beauty in watching the transformation from beginning to end because there is such humanity in Mother Teresa’s years of honesty in the letters she wrote to Father van Exem.
The history of this woman was shared by Father Celeste van Exem (Max von Sydow) through fifty years of letters. Charged with investigating Mother Teresa for the Vatican, he shares all the emotions and insecurities she felt during her time on earth. Von Sydow is an actor that has always been a favorite of mine. There isn’t a role he has done that hasn’t impressed me and his role in “The Letters” is no exception.
Other cast include: Rutger Hauer as Benjamin Praagh, Priya Darshini as Shubashini Das, Kranti Redkar as Deepa Ambereesh, Tillotama Shome as Kavitha Singh, Vijay Maurya as Maharaj Singh, Vivek Gomber as Ashwani Sharma, Pravishi Das as Dinsha Sahu, Deepak Dadhwal as Nicholas Gomes, Greg Hefferman as Nathan Beresford and Kaizaad Kotwal as Archbishop Perrier.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The Letters” four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is such a brilliant piece of storytelling about a woman the world knows but may not know the details of her life. There is something amazingly approachable about this portrayal of Mother Teresa that will draw viewers into the story.
Filmed beautifully, the cinematography of the convent and the community in which she served brings so much to the telling as well.
Mother Teresa may be canonized as a saint on Sept. 5 of 2016 that falls in the Holy Year of Mercy and the anniversary of her death. Two miracles are required for sainthood and the first happened not long after her death and the second happened to a man who recovered from brain tumors after his wife prayed to Mother Teresa in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In the end — through her life she showed an unbreakable spirit!