Posted by Mark Zhuravsky
You might think you know what to expect of this film on the basis of the title. Yet, shoehorning So Help Me God into the category of spiritual documentaries would not be quite right, as the film is a highly personal story of exploration, brisk yet thought-provoking, not to mention visually captivating. Our protagonist is one Simon Cole, a well-off man, happily married and seemingly economically unburdened. Simon however carries a load he regretfully cannot drop off his shoulders--he greatly longs for a connection to God. This is a presence Simon does not have in his life and he is driven to at the very least understand it.
As such, he strikes out on the journey that will be the subject of the documentary, done in collaboration with his two brothers Ben and Nigel Cole. With a background in commercials, the brothers bring a visually expressive eye to the proceedings, adding a new dimension of sight and sound that keeps the documentary from slipping into dry discussion. It helps that Simon is a personable and earnest interviewer who does not hesitate to bare his regrets and fears to the camera. The film also benefits from a variety of religious figureheads who share their opinions with a candid openness that echoes throughout the film.
This is an honest attempt to explore one man’s religious conundrum, yet Simon personifies those of us who have questioned their faith or lack thereof. He is earnest and steadfast, a narrator without a shadowy agenda to ridicule or challenge the beliefs of those he encounters and questions. He is burdened by his dilemma and seeks an answer to it in any way he knows how. The final scenes of Simon isolating himself to the desert for some serious soul-searching are among the most emotionally affecting in the film – you can see the exhaustion and difficulty to cope transcribed on Simon’s face. So Help Me God is his story, and it is an exhilarating one.
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