If you believe love is blind, love conquers all, and all you need is love, have I got a movie for you!
It's the sweet, hopeful and implausible "Twist of Faith" (8 tonight, Lifetime), the tale of how music and singing brings an unlikely couple together.
Jacob (David Julian Hirsh) is a kindly Orthodox Jewish cantor, a loving husband, and a devoted father of three who lives in Brooklyn. One day, his family gets on a bus and is slaughtered by a guy hopped up on something. The tragedy leaves Jacob unable to speak, but able to leave his garments, wallets and keys behind, board a bus and end up making his way to the deep South.
In the small Alabama town he eventually ends up in lives Nina (Toni Braxton), a single mother and devout Baptist church member; naturally she's in the choir. She lives next door to the church with her Uncle Moe (Mykelti Williamson) and her son Asher (Nathaniel James Potvin). Asher takes to silent Jacob first; Uncle Moe gives him a place to stay at the church, and when Jacob, who is also a carpenter (a Jewish carpenter!), proves himself handy, he earns a permanent place, much to suspicious Nina's chagrin.
But after a reminder that she's a Christian, Nina comes around and shows him some kindness; soon silent Jacob breaks his silence just for her. Before you know it, he's singing with the choir and everything. And the next thing you know, they're giving one another eyes of longing. Can this interfaith love be?
Well, the film actually kind of ignores that. While doing a nice job showing the rituals of Jacob's faith, "Twist of Faith" then pretty much ignores his commitment to that faith and that maybe, just maybe, Jacob's Orthodox Jewish mom, who lives in an Orthodox Jewish community, and pronounces his name 'Yacob' might at least be taken aback if her son told her he's got a thing for a black Christian woman. And what about the equally startling notion that a Jewish man from Brooklyn wouldn't think twice about moving to po-dunk Alabama?
While "Twist of Faith" doesn't handle race and religion realistically, it's got all the other tropes you want to see when Yankees go South: gospel music, rednecks, and guns (In the North, they're used for killing innocent people, in the South, for killing innocent, but tasty rabbits).
While Braxton and Hirsh don't have much chemistry, they are a good-looking pair; it's Williamson who saves the day. He's good even in a trifle like this.
Still, "Twist of Faith" is sweet-natured and the music's good. Even a critic like me likes a love story. After all, love is all that matters.