The Overnighters DVDDirector: Jesse Moss

Starring: Jay Reinke, Keegan Edwards.

Running Time: 102 minutes

Certificate: E

Religion and religious people are getting a bad rap these days. They’re either terrorists or sex offenders. So it’s great to see a film that reminds us of some of the good religion and believers can do, even when facing great challenges. At least at first.. THE OVERNIGHTERS looks at a story that probably has very little interest to us in the UK. It sees a church, ran by Pastor Reinke, opening their doors to accommodate the huge number of men coming to find work in the expanding oil drilling community. Such kindness draws its own controversy from locals and questions what faith is all about.

The film deals with many issues that can be transposed to thousands of communities around the world. First of all is a kind of internal immigration, as people flock from states around the US. There are jobs for many, but still no houses, providing a key look at communities experiencing sudden booms in the economy. All sides are easy to understand and sympathise with, as the local residents begin to fear these newcomers, especially when news that felons and sex offenders are joining the groups of men looking for work. At the same time, we see the fight for second chances and a genuine need to do good.

Moss’ gorgeous cinematography and ability to allow a story to unfold, captures a fascinating tale. These men surely deserve jobs, but where does the impact on the community end?  A lot of the concerns come down to paranoia, but there are some genuine truths to fight against too. We see great changes in these men. Some are effortlessly grateful, until fate turns against them. We see men blaming others, wallowing in self pity, and some who are genuinely brave souls.

Unfortunately, the film loses its focus and becomes about Pastor Reinke himself. At one point he accused of being manipulative and two=faced, and in some ways we would have to agree. He certainly begins as a loving and helpful man, but he also seems to love the camera too. It must have been a very difficult position for Moss, as he would have been criticised for omitting certain revelations, but the inclusion of them detracts from the original aim.

THE OVERNIGHTERS is in many ways a wonderful film, and the way it plays out actually coincides with its place in history. Many can now ignore the original good intentions thanks to how Reinke’s story evolves, but a last minute introduction of some of the overnighters themselves, during the credits no less, reminds us that there are real people at the heart of this tale.

[usr=3] THE OVERNIGHTERS is out on DVD now via Dogwoof.