“Mysterious Ways”, is an indie drama directed by Paul Oremland that, weaves a narrative that transcends the boundaries of love, faith, and societal acceptance.
At its core, the movie delves into the challenging journey of Peter Simmons (played by Richard Short), an Anglican Church Vicar and his Samoan boyfriend Jason (played by Nick Afoa).
The central plot unfolds as Peter, a white vicar in a small New Zealand town, aspires to marry Jason in a church ceremony. A desire that challenges both Anglican traditions and the conservative values of the local community. The taboo surrounding homosexuality in Samoan culture adds another layer of complexity to their relationship.
The film kicks into high gear when Peter publicly proposes to Jason on a live radio broadcast, triggering a viral sensation. The ensuing media storm and opposition from church authorities and homophobes in the community create a crucible that tests the couple’s resilience.
The character dynamics are intriguing, with Nick Afoa‘s portrayal of Jason, a rugby coach for a local boys’ team, with a hidden past, adding depth to the narrative. The couple faces harassment and public scrutiny, leading to the heartbreaking decision to call off their wedding. However, amidst the adversity, they find support from unexpected quarters, notably Peter’s daughter Kate (played by Becky McEwan) and Billy ( played by Joe Malu Folau), Jason‘s gender-fluid nephew.
Joe Malu Folau’s portrayal of Billy injects flamboyance and some vibrancy into the film’s LGBTQ+ theme. His character claims to be an angel sent by God to bless the wedding, adding an element of mystique to the storyline.
As the couple’s relationship deteriorates, Jason‘s poignant revelation about wanting his life back sheds light on the challenges of living openly as a gay individual, facing constant scrutiny and judgment.
The film beautifully unfolds the layers of Peter and Jason‘s connection, revealing that their bond is grounded in genuine love and care for each other. The chemistry between Richard Short and Nick Afoa is palpable, providing a convincing portrayal of a couple navigating societal expectations.
Set against the backdrop of a small New Zealand town, the film captures the intimate and tight-knit feel necessary for the narrative. Paul Oremland skillfully incorporates shots of the big city’s infrastructure while maintaining the story’s focus on the community’s dynamics.
The film’s pacing is deliberate, offering a drama that isn’t intensely suspenseful but rather calmly unfolds, hinting at moments that tease humour to balance the emotional weight but we never get that.
Also, the conclusion of the film leaves viewers somewhat confused, particularly regarding the fate of Billy. I will score this film 6/10.
“Mysterious Ways” may not be universally embraced, especially by those staunchly opposed to LGBTQ+ films. But at its core, the film addresses the Anglican church’s reluctance to support the blessing of gay love and marriages. It also sheds light on the ongoing challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in gaining acceptance and equal rights.
Notably, the film advocates for acceptance in a subtle yet impactful manner, cautiously navigating the delicate politics of the church. It refrains from explicit gratification or glorification of same-sex marriages, instead focusing on the triumph of love in the face of adversity.
Mysterious Ways stands as a testament to the power of love, urging viewers to consider the complexities of faith, societal norms, and the enduring strength of genuine human connections.