Based on actual events, renowned fundamentalist preacher Carlton Pearson suffers from a crisis of faith, leading him to a new spiritual path. Netflix Original film Come Sunday is directed by Joshua Marston and aired on Netflix on April 13, 2018.
You can also watch Dan Hart review Come Sunday on YouTube.
The atmosphere sets this film. Come Sunday displays the importance of faith in an enclosed community. It is their life, spirit, and rule. The movie sets the tone from the outset, as you are thrown into a Church with the elusive, energetic preacher Carlton delivering his preaching to a beloved praying audience. You immediately understand the moments leading up to his crisis of faith and why the man has much to deliberate. He is a religious man of wealth, pride, and reputation with trusted people counting on him to deliver his message about God consistently. Come Sunday emphasizes well the sadness of the situation and why it is worth the story, regardless if you believe in God or not.
When Come Sunday finally details his dismantlement in front of his church, you feel oddly uncomfortable. It is uneasy to watch a man applying logic from the writings of the bible get torn apart from gasps, heckles and awkward departures. The setting is almost perfect; as you hear Carlton deliver his religious theory; that those who do not look for God do not go to hell, and as you focus on his determined face, you can hear the surrounding noises break down a man that has been respected in the community for over twenty years. Regardless of what you believe in, this is a story about a man following what he genuinely believes without directly attempting to preach to the audience the passages from the bible, thankfully.
Come Sunday does not try to over-dramatize the actual events; they feel realistic. The compelling scenarios the preacher has to face are daunting and provide insight into the problem with undying faith. The film displays ostracization at the most civil level; losing friends, business partners, and church acquaintances. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Carlton, does incredibly well to make the role feel overwhelming and respected at the start. He owns the church when he delivers speeches and manages to convey an aura of power when he is around his peers. On the flipside, when the community starts ousting him, he manages to belittle his own character, portraying Carlton as one that feels small, helpless and powerless. Come Sunday reminded me of the Netflix documentary One of Us, where a community turns its back on a desperate person despite years of unparalleled loyalty.
Once Come Sunday gets to the bones of the story, with Carlton dealing with his unprecedented crisis, you begin to realize that those moments leading up to this issue are the strongest parts of the film. It’s fascinating watching a character with such absorbed faith start to question his own thinking and feel hesitant to deconstruct the religion he has followed all his life. That is not to say the second half of the film is weak, but the progression of the crisis is much stronger.
Come Sunday is an honorable story that understands the ramifications of being different in a consumed community. I am not sure of the religious opinion, but it is the story that counts.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.