War Room ★½

The military metaphor in the title turns out to be apt, since this feels like nothing so much as a gung-ho, conveniently-ignore-the-difficult-part recruitment video. Christian auteurs Alex and Stephen Kendrick tell the story of Elizabeth (Priscilla C. Shirer), a real-estate agent struggling with an unhappy marriage to her husband, Tony (T.C. Stallings)—until a new client, widow Clara Williams (Karen Abercrombie), becomes her spiritual advisor. It’s initially refreshing to find an affluent African-American family in the protagonist role, and there’s merit to the self-healing that comes from spiritual practice. But structurally, the movie is a mess, building to so many different endings it really should’ve been called The Return of the King of Kings. And even more troubling is the mix of victim-blaming in an emotionally-abusive relationship and an infantile depiction of prayer that turns God into a genie who gives your husband food poisoning before he can cheat on you. All the Satan-rebuking speeches in the world can’t make a story uplifting when it subtly suggests that you can tell a real Christian by the way everything always works out exactly the way they pray for it.