After Netflix boasted 700 original releases for 2018 at a cost of $8 billion, the film and TV streaming powerhouse has been making good on that promise, with new thumbnails continuously being added to an already bursting homepage. Without the outlay of a traditional cinematic release, the site is free from certain risks when it comes to picking up its projects, and that is seen in the quality of its output with films like this year’s The Cloverfield Paradox failing spectacularly to instil hope in Netflix’s model and its ability to curate top-tier content.
The latest film on the slate is Come Sunday, the true story of Carlton Pearson, an evangelical bishop whose faith starts to waiver following an epiphany while watching the effects of the Rwandan genocide play out on his TV. Despite the promising subject matter, the middling script distils what could and indeed should have been a fiery exploration of the church’s twisted morality, turning the mirror on an organisation responsible for ostracising one of its own for questioning God, while at the same time housing a culture of deep-rooted homophobia. Instead its denizens get a pass, free from any real conflict across the film’s 106 minutes.
The drama instead plays out in the mind of Pearson, here embodied, not played, by one of Hollywood’s most underrated sons Chiwetel Ejiofor, who gives an electric performance as the charismatic bishop. It’s the kind of exhibition, alongside the work of the immensely talented Lakeith Stanfield, that helps elevate an average film to something nearing captivating.
In what feels like another near-miss from Netflix, Come Sunday is a low key morality tale that never quite delivers. Despite a plethora of fine performances from its congregation, we’re left with Ejiofor et al and those off-camera reading from different hymn sheets.
CAST: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jason Segel, Lakeith Stanfield, Martin Sheen, Danny Glover, Condola Rashad
DIRECTOR: Joshua Marston
WRITER: Marcus Hinchey
SYNOPSIS: Evangelist Carlton Pearson is ostracized by his church for preaching that there is no Hell.