States of Grace
|States of Grace|
|Directed by||Richard Dutcher|
|Produced by||Richard Dutcher|
|Written by||Richard Dutcher|
Jeffrey Scott Kelly
J. J. Boone
|Music by||Ben Carson|
|Distributed by||Zion Films|
States of Grace (also known as God's Army 2: States of Grace) is a 2005 drama film by Richard Dutcher which tells the story of two Mormon missionaries in Santa Monica, California. It is a sequel to Dutcher's God's Army.
The story revolves around Elder Farrell (Lucas Fleischer) a "by the book" Mormon missionary and his companion, Elder Lozano (Ignacio Serricchio) who, because he is a few weeks away from finishing his two year commitment, has no plans to work very hard at his job of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
All of this changes as the two Elders are caught in the cross fire of a gang shooting. Just prior to the shooting, the targets of the attack, a group of thugs had intimidated the missionaries, but despite this, after the attack, Elder Lozano helps save the life of Carl (Lamont Stephens), one of the shot men. Carl asks for last rites, but Lozano explains that he is not Catholic and doesn't do that, but tells him that if he lives, he will be spiritually saved.
To stop the bleeding, Elder Lozano uses his shirt revealing several tattoos and healed wounds presumably caused by gang violence. Elder Farrell is taken back by the revelation that his companion had such a violent past. Not wanting to discuss it, Lozano states that he made a better convert than he did a missionary, regretting he was not more effective in his efforts, and his lack of enthusiasm toward his task.
After Carl is released from the hospital he tracks down Lozano at a Santa Monica beach where the missionaries in the area play basketball on their day off. He thanks him for saving his life, and noticing a copy of the Book of Mormon, is offered a copy and the phone number of the Elders.
On their way home the Elders notice a man unconscious beside a dumpster. This man, later identified as Louis (Jo-sei Ikeda), has been preaching sermons to no one in particular on the street outside of the apartment of the missionaries. Against Farrell's better judgment, and the missionary rule of not allowing non-missionaries in their residence, he agrees to take the homeless man back to their apartment when Lozano tells him, they can "keep the rules or keep the commandments".
The phone rings late in the night. It is Carl asking to meet with the missionaries. The next morning they meet Carl at the bleachers of the basketball court. He tells them he has been reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and wants to be baptized. When the Elders learn that he wants to be baptized that day, they agree to teach him the standard discussions before the end of the week and schedule the baptism for a few days later.
In the meantime, their neighbor, Holly (Rachel Emmers), is asked by the missionaries to watch the old man in their absence, giving her a key to their apartment. When they come home, they find Holly giving Louis a haircut and cleaning him up. The four have dinner together in the Elder's apartment and Louis tells of how he lost his congregation due to a love for liquor.
For the next few days, the four continue to eat together on the roof of the building, as it is against the rules to have a female in their apartment. Elder Farrell learns from Holly that she is an actress, but that in her struggle to make it in Hollywood, she did two adult movies. Because of this, her family has disowned her, and she laments the choice she has made. She continues to call her family every week and leave a message that is never returned. Farrell tells her that God will never stop loving her no matter what she has done.
At a local ward luau, Carl is interviewed by another Elder for baptism, and is told a story from the Book of Mormon. The story is of Ammon, a missionary, who teaches a group of people that decides to give up their weapons and bury them deep in the ground, vowing never to use them again.
As Carl's baptism comes closer, his younger brother, Rob (Allen Maldonado) feels like Carl needs to "be a man" and take revenge for the death of Carl's friend. Carl tells Rob that he is being a man by giving up his violent ways. That night, Carl buries his guns and knives in his backyard. The next day, Carl is baptized by Elder Lozano in the Pacific Ocean with his grandmother May (J.J. Boone), brother, and the other missionaries watching from the shore.
The next day, Carl and his grandmother May attend church, where Carl is confirmed a member of the church by the laying on of hands. At the same time, his brother, Rob, goes to the Hispanic gang territory seeking revenge. The gang corners him, stabbing him to death. When Carl and May return from church, they are told the news. Immediately, Carl digs up his weapons and, with his gang, goes looking for the other gang leader. They drive all night, and finally, the next day, they run him down in a park with their car, breaking his leg. Carl holds a gun to his head, but he is conflicted, backs off, and walks away. Another gang member shoots the leader and Carl is distraught. That night he returns to the ocean where he was baptized and throws his gun and magazine into the water.
Meanwhile, Louis finds an old church for sale and asks the owner, a widow, if he can preach at the church, and she can still own it.
Back at the Elder's apartment, Elder Lozano wakes up to find that Elder Farrell is not in his bed. He looks across the balcony, and sees the lights on in Holly's apartment. He knocks on her door but there is no answer. He returns to his apartment, and is about to call the mission president, when Louis, sleeping on the floor, says "He's a good kid. Have faith in him."
The next day, Elder Farrell is asleep in his bed, but when they wake up, there is tension in the air. Farrell eventually breaks down, crying. He knows he will be sent home for his indiscretion. The mission president is called. A church van comes to take him home and drop off a new Elder. Holly at first doesn't understand and thinks she can see "Scott" but soon realizes that Elder Farrell has done something with the same ramifications that she had done in her life. She returns to her apartment.
When Elder Lozano calls Elder Farrell from the bathroom, Farrell does not respond. After kicking down the door, Farrell is found in the bathtub with his wrists slashed. The Elders rush him into the van and take him to the hospital. Holly finally realizes just how serious things have become. She goes to the hospital and talks to Farrell as he recovers, telling him the same thing he told her: God will love you no matter what you have done.
Later, Elder Farrell, now in casual attire, is back in his apartment packing his things. His mother has flown out to take him home; his father didn't come. His mother hugs him as he cries uncontrollably. As he leave his apartment, he is greeted by Louis, Elder Lozano, the rest of the missionaries, Carl, May, and the mission president. Holly comes down from her apartment as well. Elder Farrell is drawn toward a "living Nativity" that is on display nearby. Eventually everyone is watching, and the baby Jesus is held by the main characters one by one. After the baby is laid down, the wise men and Joseph kneel. One by one, the rest of the group kneels before Jesus.
The final scene cuts to Louis preaching a lively sermon to a packed house at his new church.
- Lucas Fleischer ... Elder Scott Farrell
- Ignacio Serricchio ... Elder Lozano
- Jo-sei Ikeda ... Louis
- Lamont Stephens ... Carl
- Allen Maldonado ... Rob
- J.J. Boone ... Mae
- Rachel Emmers ... Holly
- Jeffrey Scott Kelly ... Elder Mangum
- Adam Conger ... Elder Collens
- Allison Evans ... Doctor
- Richard Franklin ... Gang Banger
- Jennifer Freeman ... Jennifer
- Brett Granstaff ... Elder Stearman
- Aaron J. Hartnell ... Burn victim
- Samantha Klein ... Sister Hershey
- Rege Lewis ... Jordan
- Danny Martinez
- Michael May ... Elder Myers
- Aiyani Mersai ... Sister Savea
- John Pentecost ... President Beecroft
- Karyna Shackelford ... Mary
- Julia Silverman ... Nurse
- Desean Terry ... Banks
- Randy Tobin ... Beach Guy
In San Diego, California, a local theater was showing States of Grace. A box office employee told customers that it was "being advertised as a Christian film, but it's really a Mormon film." Some Mormons were outraged and planned a protest, but the film's director, Richard Dutcher called them off, preferring to keep the peace, "turn the other cheek" and let the film speak for itself.