Leap of Faith
Leap of Faith is a 1992 American dramedy film, directed by Richard Pearce and starring Steve Martin, Liam Neeson and Debra Winger. The film is about Jonas Nightengale, a fraudulent Christian faith healer who uses his revival meetings, in Rustwater, Kansas, to bilk believers out of their money. Jonas Nightengale is a fraudulent Christian faith healer who makes a living travelling around America holding revival meetings and conducting 'miracles' with the help of his friend and manager, Jane, and their entourage. One of their trucks breaks down in Rustwater, a town in desperate need of rain to save their crops. While waiting for spare parts, Jonas decides to hold a revival meeting in the town. The local sheriff, Will Braverman, is skeptical and tries to prevent his town and its people from being conned. However a local disabled boy, Boyd, believes Jonas could make him walk again. Events in Rustwater make Jonas examine his own faith and doubts. The movie was filmed in Groom, Texas, parts of the movie were filmed in Plainview, Texas the town water tower still has the fictional town mascot painted on the side. Martin became the film's leading actor after Michael Keaton quit the
Release Date: December 18, 1992
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Steve Martin may have his first Oscar nomination in the bag with "Leap of Faith," a highly entertaining fable about a con man whose very small, inactive conscience is pricked by the sincerity of others. Although that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to change.
Yes, folks, we're in "Elmer Gantry" territory.
Martin stars as Jonas Night-en-gale, a tent evangelist who travels through big towns cleaning up with amazing showmanship. He's part preacher, part carnival barker and all scam artist, exploiting people's personal tragedies for his own personal gain.
"Are you a fraud?" he's asked at one point. "If I get the job done, what difference does it make?" he responds. "The job," as Jonas sees it, is to make people feel better, to give them some hope, to allow them to believe in small miracles, whether or not they truly exist. And to get them to drop dollars into collection baskets as thanks.
Backed by a chorus of up-tempo gospel singers (whose music adds much to the goings-on here), Jonas struts, dances and leaps across his stage, duping people by pretending he's hearing the word of God as he addresses their problems. Actually, he's getting the word from his manager, Jane (Debra Winger), who uses video cameras to spot suckers and whispers information to Jonas electronically about their troubles, gleaned from employees in the wings who listen in to conversations.
The plot goes into motion when one of Jonas' trucks breaks down as the troupe is passing through the little town of Rustwater, Kansas, and Jonas and Jane both meet their matches.
The town is suffering from high unemployment and a drought and the people are ripe for the picking. And pick them he does.
Meanwhile, Jane is attracted to the town sheriff (Liam Neeson), a no-nonsense fellow bent on exposing their con game. Ultimately, Jonas is touched by the decency of a cynical waitress (Lolita David-ovich), whose younger brother (Lukas Haas) looks to him to heal his paralyzed legs. But that doesn't stop him from staging a miracle of his own. One that will give him some national press.
Some of the characters here are a bit underdeveloped, especially those played by Davidovich and Haas, who do what they can with what they've got. But Winger gives her most sympathetic performance in some time, and Neeson is reliably stable.
But, as mentioned, Martin is an absolute knockout. It's his movie from start to finish as he walks a real tightrope, playing a character who is self-centered, manipulative and easy to despise. Somehow he manages to make us care for him, and more importantly, to hope for him.
"Leap of Faith" is rated PG-13 for profanity and vulgarity.
December 18th, 1992 · Details