Retro Review: Bless the Child

A heroin addict’s child could be the savior of man but first she must face a series of temptations sent by Lucifer himself.

Kim Basinger stars in “Bless the Child” a story that centers upon a childless mother who is forced to look after an abandoned child after her sister leaves the child. Basinger’s sister is a desperate drug addict who has no idea who the father is but knows very well that she can’t care for the child.

As the child grows into a preteen, Basinger becomes more and more convinced that the mother will never return. When the child is diagnosed as being autistic, the estranged mother reappears with a mysterious husband (Rufus Sewell), who runs a self help institute that specializes in runaways. Convinced that the mother and husband can now take care of the child they take the child from Basinger.

While this struggle is going on the city is immersed in the grip of a child serial killer and an FBI liaison (Jimmy Smits) is dispatched to help with the case. His main focus is ritual killings and it appears the victims are being sacrificed in a search for the child of the Second Coming.

Is Basinger’s neice the next Christ figure? Is she apart of some grander scheme? These are questions the movie delves into as Sewell becomes quite a villainous figure in his pursuit to uncover this truth.

“Bless the Child” is a film that Hollywood seems to always return to. The idea of the “Second Coming” but this time they have clouded it with a recently over-used “put the child in jeopardy” thriller formula. Its kind of “End of Days” meets “Mercury Rising”. This film is a lot more subtler than a lot of religious based thrillers of recent years and really tries to bring a perfect vision of “divine intervention” to the film and its characters. I would be curious to see how this film would play to a lot of Christians and what would their reactions be?

A few amazing visuals perfectly capture the vision of demons and angels. But the “rat-demon” boggles my mind on why that effect was necessary. Wouldn’t Rufus Sewell’s devilish performance be enough unholy enough for the plot and the religious finale? I often wondered what it would have been like if Sewell and Smits had switched roles.

All Smits had to work with here was a clone of his NYPD Blue character. Smits’ good looks and presence could have ignited the villain and been a great character for the actor. I have always loved Sewell and he always plays a great reluctant hero who is struggling with his inner self. But here he just isn’t convincing as a devil trying to turn the child to his side of thinking.

What is sad about this whole scenario is that you can’t help but snicker that Sewell is working for the “dark side”. I know Sewell is a lot better hero than a villain from some of his other great movies which include “Dark City” and “Dangerous Beauty”. If you haven’t seen those I recommend them highly.

With “Bless the Child” being Basinger’s second film since her Oscar win I really think she still has yet to prove why she won her Oscar. At this moment in time, I am tending to be placing her in the Oscar category with Geena Davis and Marisa Tomei. These three actresses probably stole Oscar from some better actresses thus creating the category. I guess only time will tell.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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