States of Grace
Two Mormon missionaries to Santa Monica (Ignacio Serricchio and Lucas Fleischer) become involved with a gangbanger (Lamont Stephens), an actress (Rachel Emmers) and a homeless street preacher (Jo-sei Ikeda). Writer-director Richard Dutcher, a devout Mormon, is also a filmmaker of real talent, and this is something of a magnum opus for him, juggling multiple characters and plotlines with assurance. It is slow-paced and solemn, almost to the point of gloomy torpor—and Dutcher missteps at the climax, when the film dips into melodrama over a plot development that (to non-Mormons at least) will probably look like a lot of hand-wringing over no big deal. But Dutcher has a good feel for character and dialogue, a sensitive hand with his actors and an ability to be genuinely religious without getting preachy.