Person of Interest

Rose McGowan in The Pastor's Wife (2011)

Matthew Winker (Michael Shanks - Christmas Lodge) and his family have only been in town for a year but as the pastor he is extremely popular with his congregation who see that he has raised his children to be respectful of their father. But what no one realises is that behind close doors Matthew is a tyrant towards his wife Mary (Rose McGowan - Conan the Barbarian) and has run up a vast amount of debt in her name. Finally having had enough Mary shoots her husband and flees with the children to a motel whilst the congregation speculate who could have done such a thing to such a nice guy.

When it comes to true story movies, especially those which are based on a murder such as "The Pastor's Wife", my lack of knowledge over the actual crimes involved is often a benefit as I have no prejudices based on media reports. It also allows me to judge one of these true story movies as more of a drama rather than a dramatization of what may or may not have happened. Having said all that, I have to say that whilst "The Pastor's Wife" has a natural interest factor due to the nature of the murder it has flaws when it comes to how it tells the story.

Martin Cummins in The Pastor's Wife (2011)

What I mean by that is that sadly "The Pastor's Wife" has an almost scatter gun approach to the story. On one hand we get to see what pushed Mary to shoot her husband, we also have a few flashbacks when it comes to their marriage. At the same time we get the police investigation and the questioning of her but we then get faux interview snippets as various actors playing members of the congregation talk directly to the camera about their pastor and his wife. All of which interweaves and overlaps to every now and then create a fake reality where we might get a scene of Mary on the beach yet at the same time a detective walks along as if he had entered this flashback moment in her life and says in his opinion she was going to murder her children as well. In fact some of these scenes combined with some interesting music choices, such as a gritty version of "House of the Rising Sun" gives it a surreal element.

Despite a creative look which didn't work for me "The Pastor's Wife" is as I said still interesting and Rose McGowan delivers a strong performance of what ends up a complex character. You get a real sense of confusion and vulnerability when it comes to Mary but through the flashbacks we also get to see another side to her, a more confident woman who was slowly worn down by her husband. At the same time we also have Martin Cummins as her sharp suited lawyer Steve Farese Sr. and you get a sense that whilst he wants to help Mary he also is doing the case to further his career with all the media attention.

What this all boils down to is that director Norma Bailey certainly puts her own creative mark on "The Pastor's Wife" and in doing so stops this being just another text book true crime drama. But for me some of the creative choices over power the story and sadly spoil the retelling of the true story.

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