Say Your Prayers, directed by Harry Michell and written by Jamie Fraser and Harry Michell, is a dark comedy following two orphaned brothers – Tim (Harry Melling) and Vic (Tom Brooke) – turned Christian hitmen. The film balances moments of humor with character growth, while also balancing the aim of its jokes, so the film does not feel heavy-handed against any of its characters.
Comedic Tone and Style
Say Your Prayers starts strong establishing Tim and Vic as somewhat bumbling in the field of radical Christian assassinations. Killing the wrong person because he somewhat resembles their target sets up the film, and works well to set up the personalities of the two brothers. Vic comes across as ready for the task at hand, no matter how dark it gets.
Tim, on the other hand, seems stuck in this job, constantly wondering if it is the right thing to do. Harry Melling does a wonderful job of establishing the inner turmoil of Tim, along with his kind nature. His position in the assassination is to keep the target talking, and he ends up just as surprised and possibly horrified as the target.
Say Your Prayers does a perfect job of setting up the opposition of these characters as well as the underlying love between them. Tim openly expresses his love for his brother and offers him comfort. The dynamic between the two is realistic and brings Tom Brooke and Harry Melling‘s performances to the forefront. They both give immensely layered and interesting performances, showcasing the character study aspects of the film.
Say Your Prayers offers darkly comedic moments, which bring to mind a tone similar to the work of Martin McDonagh in film (In Bruges) and theater (The Pillowman). This tone of humor works well with the film’s subject matter and allows for explorations of religion, family, and morality.
The film also establishes its comedic style early on with the inclusion of a male choir, clad in red jackets, who sing in the background of scenes like the small-town Christian version of a Greek chorus. This works well to add a dissonance between the musical tone and the action on screen, and also gives the film a unique visual style.
Balance within its Humor
Say Your Prayers finds balance within the aim of its satire. Tim is the most likable character in the film, and Melling plays his joy and innocence with an underlying sadness, showing just how much he has gone through in his life and allows the audience to see his conflicting emotions stem from a place of wanting to make the right decision for everyone involved, which sometimes is impossible.
The film does contain moments focused on the pretentiousness of Huxley (Roger Allam), the Atheist professor Tim and Vic were supposed to kill, as he belittles people who believe in God.
There is a particularly memorable scene where Imelda (Vinette Robinson), a literature festival worker, invites Tim to a party where Huxley is in attendance. When she walks away for a second, Huxley’s open and accepting façade falls away, and he tells Tim he doesn’t belong.
There are also moments within the film that feel aimed at showing the radical side of Tim and Vic, and the ending of the film drives home the idea that corruption and morally bad people exist inside of every group.
Say Your Prayers allows the religious characters in the film to showcase the good sides of their belief without feeling like the film’s main aim is to preach at its audience like a large percentage of films with a religious focus. This allows the personality and challenges of the characters to stand out, rather than just their belief.
Roger Allam played Huxley in a way that illustrates the character’s superiority complex and lack of understanding, while Melling played Tim in a way that represents the heart and forgiving nature of the character.
Throughout the film, I wanted people to stop causing pain to Tim, because Melling‘s performance perfectly captures the character, and makes you feel for him so deeply.
Say Your Prayers is a thoughtful and humorous exploration of morality, religion, and the strength–good or bad–of individual people filled with memorable performances especially from Harry Melling and Tom Brooke as the central brothers.
Are you excited to see Say Your Prayers? If so, what interests you the most about the film? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Say Your Prayers was released in US theaters and on-demand April 2nd.
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