Leap Of Faith

A good example of what critic Robin Wood has called an incoherent text. After devoting most of its length and energy to a fascinating and entertaining exposition of the con games and fake miracles concocted by touring revivalists (including Steve Martin and Debra Winger) in a small town in Kansas, the picture suddenly goes gooey-eyed mystical or ironic or both and serves up a couple of genuine (i.e., Spielbergian) miracles, making nonsense of most of the preceding plot. Still, if you enjoy Martin and Winger as much as I do, you may not notice how egregiously miscast they are (not to mention Liam Neeson as a local sheriff courting Winger); Martin’s jumping-jack foot patter and Winger’s brains and eroticism are agreeable con games in their own right, and Lolita Davidovich and Lukas Haas are also fine (and actually well cast) as a local waitress and her crippled brother. Richard Pearce (The Long Walk Home) directed from a script by newcomer Janus Cercone, who seems better served by her research into tent preachers and con artists than by the ultimate meanings she gleans from her updated Elmer Gantry material (1992). (JR)

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