Spirituality can be a beautiful thing to explore in cinema, but “War Room” has no interest in engaging its audience on a personal level. It has one single goal, which according to the Kendricks, is the only goal worth having. The film wants to evangelize by preaching an ideology that requires its followers to view the world in black-and-white terms. Grappling with the gray areas in life is seen as a sign of weakness, while acting in one’s own best interest is nothing more than a sinful exercise in selfish pride.
The film’s centerpiece sequence occurs early on, as Elizabeth sits weeping in her closet while pleading, “God, help him love me again.” This moment is heartbreaking for all the wrong reasons. Since the Kendricks have mistaken one-dimensional caricatures for people who exist in the real world, they forgot to provide Tony with any redeeming qualities that would make us want to root for his marriage. As for the film’s advice to women who are beaten by their husbands, one of Elizabeth’s co-workers advises, “Learn to duck so God can hit him.”
The multitude of problems in their marriage can be boiled down to one cause: Satan. Once the evildoer is cast out of the house in a stirring, borderline psychotic monologue delivered by Elizabeth, everything changes. God promptly interrupts Tony’s dinner with a potential mistress by giving him a stomach ache, and sends him back into his wife’s arms. Before you know it, he’s lost his well-paying job and is facing potential jail time for dirty double-dealing, but Elizabeth remains utterly unfazed. When he asks how she could possibly forgive him for his endless list of transgressions, her answer is unsettling. She insists that she’s staying in the relationship because she loves Jesus, and that it is her godly duty to forever be at his side.
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