Movie review: Of Gods and Men

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The French drama "Of Gods and Men" is a tale of religious conviction, but it's both uplifting and tragic regardless of your spiritual affiliations (or lack thereof).

Based on a true story, it chronicles a group of French Christian monks living in a monastery in northern Algeria in the 1990s.

The monks live in symbiotic harmony with their predominantly Muslim neighbors, providing medicine and bringing stability to the region.

But when a group of Islamic terrorists brutally slays foreign workers, the monks must decide whether to stay in an increasingly dangerous situation. As the monks remain defiant, their stoic and steadfast position is stirring.

"Of Gods and Men" is masterfully constructed, managing to build deep tension while maintaining a languid, almost meditative pace.

Director Xavier Beauvois gives balance to the proceedings, as the lush cinematography showcases the simple solitude of monastic life. Occasional moments of violence play out in harsh contrast.

The cast led by Lambert Wilson portrays the monks as warm and comforted in their faith, as they typify the concept of "turn the other cheek."

What this is not is a portrayal of a clash of cultures. The monks refuse to equate the violent terrorists with their gentle neighbors just because of a shared faith.

Maybe we could all learn from that.

Of Gods and Men

Opens Friday at the Drexel

3.5 stars out of 4