The award-winning, critically praised Of Gods and Men is the kind of movie you appreciate more after you've left the theater than while sitting in it. Long on visuals and short on action, the based-on-a-true-story film depicts the quiet, reverent lives of eight Christian monks living in war-torn Algeria in the 1990s.
The monks minister to the people in their mountain village -- dispensing love advice as well as medicine, which is usually in short supply. They study together, pray together, sing hymns together; they are a true brotherhood. If I lived next door to a monastery, I'd want the monks to be just like the gentle, wise ones depicted here.
Their peaceful existence is threatened by violent Islamic groups terrorizing their village. The brothers toy with the idea of leaving en masse or one by one, but ultimately decide -- in an unforgettable scene showing their joy in their unified decision -- they're called to remain in the village. They quietly refuse to be bullied or to abandon the desperately poor villagers who rely on them for physical and emotional care.
They don't reach the decision easily -- or quickly, I might add. The film takes its time to show us the slow pace of life that helps bring about the calm quiet inside their cloistered world. Even as war rages outside their doors.
As violence gets closer and closer, the monks' resolve grows stronger. They're aware they're in danger, yet we see them, one by one, grow to be at peace with their decision to stay.
I shall not divulge more of what happens to the eight dear men who peacefully resist the war going on around them. The film can be a tedious journey for the filmgoer, yet it resonates powerfully long after the closing scene. The subtitled movie is not for the impatient, but for those willing to sit it out, I say: See it.