Faith and Unlikely Redemption in Letters to Father Jacob

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Letters to Father Jacob
Directed by Klaus Haro
Olive Films
Opens October 8, Cinema Village

There’s a sparse elegance to writer-director Klaus Härö’s Letters to Father Jacob, a lean, engrossing character study about loneliness, redemption, and the power of faith. Largely centered on just two people, it’s a brisk-moving film whose unsentimental but deep emotion derives from smart performances. After stout, scowling Leila (actress and journalist Kaarina Hazard) is unexpectedly pardoned from life in prison, she finds herself in the employ of Father Jacob (Heikki Nousiainen), a blind priest who lives in an isolated and deteriorating house where he has dedicated his life to answering the letters of people seeking prayers and counsel. She has been hired to assist him. Immediately apparent to the viewer is the father’s deep loneliness and the fact that Leila has also been hired for companionship. Her brutal indifference to the father and her job, along with the thick air of menace that trails her, create an unnerving tension. While the chipping of her armor (and her own crippling loneliness) and her slow forging of a connection to Father Jacob might be predictable, the hows and whys (including the revelation of her backstory) are not. By the time Leila’s brow furrows in concern for the father, the film has absolutely earned its tug at your heart.

 
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