An eye for an eye sums up the philosophy of Stuart Long (Mark Wahlberg) when we first meet him in Father Stu (15A). As well it might: a hard-living amateur boxer, Stuart isn’t the kind of guy to turn the other cheek.
But when Stuart is forced to retire from boxing and travels to Hollywood to become ‘the next John Wayne’, the aspiring actor meets Carmen (Teresa Ruiz), a devout Catholic who refuses to entertain Stuart’s clumsy attempts to hook up until he gets his spiritual act together. At first, Stu is happy to play along, but it’s not long before he’s starting to question his purpose in the grander scheme of things…
The title is something of a giveaway in terms of the movie’s big twist, although to be fair Father Stu — which is based on a true story — wears its heart on its sleeve from the very start: Stuart’s stop-start journey towards redemption has much in common with the Book of Job, even if contains considerably more foul-mouthed blasphemies.
Written and directed by Rosalind Ross, the film is a bracingly unsentimental account of one man’s fall from grace and his hard-earned return to the light, with Mark Wahlberg ideally cast as a mouthy redneck with oodles of charm and the ex-boxer’s instinct of hauling himself up off the canvas every time he takes a hit.
Teresa Ruiz isn’t given a huge amount of original material to work with as the love interest, but Mel Gibson and Jackie Weaver, playing Stuart’s parents, put in memorabl