Billy, a phony psychic, is given the boot from his girlfriend and forced out onto the streets. It's not the first time, I'm sure, that this womanizing scammy man has found himself in such a situation; Billy is definitely not any form of poster boy for anything good. Like slipping on an old worn glove, Billy decides to get back into the business of preaching - but not for the love of God, no way. It's all about the money and maybe even the scam itself.
Scoring some clothes is as easy as scoring a Jeep to get his newest scam started, and with the help of old friend Rocco, he goes about setting things up. His target? A true believer and successful television preacher, Sister Sara. He doesn't just want to get close to her; he wants to form a relationship and get control of her ministry. Which he eventually does because he's such a good con-man. But what he probably didn't count on, was the true nature of his feelings towards Sara. I won't get into all the nitty-gritty and spoil the entire film, but I'm pretty sure you can figure out the rest of the broad-strokes for yourself.
"Canaan Land" is around two-hours long, and at times during the film, you can physically feel every second. But then there are other times, for the most part later in the movie, that time seems to just fly by. It's very unbalanced, especially at the start, and let me be clear - this is not a film for everyone. If you're one of those folks who are naturally very impatient, I would steer clear of Richard Rossi's gritty look at televangelism and organized religion. If you're one of those folks who loves a more reality-based take on filmmaking - and can appreciate a slower moving story that is, actually, really good, then make sure to check this film out. There's a lot of good here, especially the performances; you'll just need to give "Canaan Land" the chance it deserves.
I touched upon this film's two-hour length above but now want to discuss the topic in more detail. Why? Because the length or perceived length is my only real hang-up when writing about this film. Yes, it's true that the images are not all of the greatest quality, and the audio isn't perfect - but that was something I knew going into the film. For the most part, anyone who watches "Canaan Land" will know what to expect visually... this is a micro-budget, independent film, after all. But some movies, micro or big-budget, should simply not be two hours long. Yet... there's more. The first act of this movie was really hard to watch, meaning that by the time the "real" story begins to unfold, I was already feeling a little tired.
To be blunt? Awkward is the best way I could describe the first act - and well into the second. Strangely used transitions and often clunky feeling edits, made the first half of "Canaan Land" a little hard to follow along with. Aside from saying it felt awkward, I can't put my finger on the exact reason it was all a little much. A wise man once said I don't quite understand why, but I know it when I see it. However, things do eventually even out somewhat, and it's the later segments of this film I based my rating on. The plus side of the movie? A good story and some excellent acting. Seeing "Brother Billy" preaching away felt completely authentic, as did watching Sara. At some points in the film, I found myself fully invested - and there's definitely no complaining about that.
So reader, here's the thing. The biggest concern I have with "Canaan Land" is that there's no reason it couldn't appeal to bigger audiences. Anyone who sticks around past the slightly inflated and often jumpy start of the film, will probably be glad they stuck it out. But getting those eyes from point A to point Z will be the hard part. For those on the fence, however, I can say this with almost complete certainty - give this film a chance. You won't be disappointed. For that reason, I've decided on the above-average rating of three stars. It's different, it's mostly authentic, and it's indie. Amen.