Have a Little Faith
by Phil Boatwright

Have a Little Faith, a Hallmark Hall of Fame drama, is now on DVD. Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Whitford, Anika Noni Rose and Martin Landau. Jon Avnet Directs from Mitch Albom’s Screenplay.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The movie, based on the latest best-selling book by Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven), was filmed on location in Detroit.

Henry Covington was a Detroit preacher who overcame – along with his wife, Annette, played by Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls, Caroline, Or Change) – a life mired in drugs and crime. Mitch Albom, portrayed in the movie by Bradley Whitford (The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), met the reverend-in-recovery when he wrote newspaper columns about homeless people and homeless shelters. Covington’s I Am My Brother’s Keeper Church provided food and a place -- on the church floor -- where homeless people could sleep.

The other central character in Albom’s book and movie is New Jersey Rabbi Albert Lewis, played by Academy Award winner Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Entourage). “The Reb,” as Albom calls him, asks Albom – who had briefly attended the rabbi’s synagogue as a child -- to write his eulogy.

On the surface, these two larger-than-life characters, the charismatic African-American preacher and the feisty, funny rabbi, could hardly be more different. But they each in their own way profoundly affect the writer. It’s a story about life’s purpose – losing belief and finding it again – and about the divine spark inside all of us. One man’s journey is really everyone’s story.

Have a Little Faith, Albom’s first non-fiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie, was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, remaining on the list for more than seven months, and was published in March in paperback. Both editions are by Hyperion.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Hallmark Hall of Fame should teach school for anybody wanting to make movies for television or for those with a message that goes straight to DVD. They hit the bull’s eye with nearly every production, and Have a Little Faith is no exception.

The film features three strong performances from the leads, and though they are each splendid, I was most taken with Mr. Fishburne – perhaps because his character has the largest arc, but it also seems as if the actor can take either the simplest of lines or the most complex and deliver them with authority and realism. Director Jon Avnet interweaves the two stories with ease, and as you would expect from Hallmark, the good technical aspects help keep us involved. The producers have the guts to tackle the subjects of faith and God and caring for your fellow man – three topics not often seen in an industry dominated by CSI crime shows and the “reality” trials and tribulations of the Kardashians.

Have a Little Faith is the most involving, spiritually rewarding made-for-TV film I’ve seen this year.

Not yet rated, it does show some violence in the world of a drug-addicted thief, but the violence does not become gory or excessive.