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Film review: Well-made, well-intentioned 'Errand' is a bit dry

Published: Friday, Aug. 22 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

THE ERRAND OF ANGELS — ** 1/2 — Erin Chambers, Rachel Emmers, Bettina Schwarz; with subtitles (European dialects); rated PG (thematic material)

The biggest strengths of "The Errand of Angels" are some of the film's biggest weaknesses as well.

For example, this locally produced, LDS-themed drama is one of the more earnest and well-intentioned movies in recent memory.

But that sometimes forceful earnestness does come off as preachy, and the film does feel a little talky and a little dry as a result. However, there are some good performances (especially in supporting cast) and it is a very technically sound, well-assembled and professional looking, especially considering its limited, sub-$1 million budget.

"The Errand of Angels" is a collaboration between first-time writer Heidi Johnson and screenwriter/director Christian Vuissa (the 2004 adaptation of "Baptists at Our Barbecue"). The movie looks at sister missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Erin Chambers stars as Rachel Taylor, an eager-beaver LDS Church member who's understandably excited to spend 18 months in Austria.

Sister Taylor does get along well with her first companion, Sister Felder (Katrin Mayer). Unfortunately, she immediately butts heads with her second companion. Sister Keller (Bettina Schwarz) has very different ideas about how the two young women should be spending their time.

So, Sister Taylor is relieved when she gets to spend a week with Sister Young (Rachel Emmers), who's also energetic and excited to get out in the mission "field."

Both in theme and story structure, this is similar to the 2003 movie version of "The Best Two Years," though this film could use a little of that one's humor and light-heartedness.

Attempts to joke about the peculiarities of Austrian and European cuisine fall flat, and there are a couple of places where the nearly constant religious talk becomes stifling.

As for the doe-eyed Chambers, she's a little tentative and stiff in her performance. But Emmers ("God's Army 2: States of Grace") makes up for that shortcoming with her performance. She's very natural and is one of the film's assets.

And Vuissa and cinematographer Brian Wilcox (2002's "Truth & Conviction") do capture some stunning shots of the almost storybook-looking, European surroundings.

"The Errand of Angels" is rated PG, though it does contain some mild thematic elements (discussions of faith-related issues), as well as a brief scuffle between mission companions (done for laughs). Running time: 91 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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