Synopsis by Michael Betzold
This film is the product of an unlikely pairing between novelist Elmore Leonard and maverick screenwriter-director Paul Schrader. Leonard usually writes Detroit-based crime novels; this time, Schrader transports one of Leonard's quirkier, non-crime books to an L.A. scene. Christopher Walken plays slick ex-preacher and musical promoter Bill Hill, who is trying to rescue his former church organist Virginia Worrell (Conchata Ferrell) from an abusive husband. He enlists a former Franciscan priest, a Brazilian named Juvenal (Skeet Ulrich) who now works as an alcohol rehabilitation counselor. Juvenal not only calms down Virginia's husband, he cures her blindness. Later, he also cures a young boy of leukemia. His laying on of his hands causes his palms to bleed with the stigmata of Jesus Christ. As work of his miraculous powers spreads, Juvenal becomes the prey of several people who want to exploit him, including Hill, who's out for money, and a militant traditionalist Catholic, August Murray (Tom Arnold), who wants Juvenal to help his crusade to restore the old-fashioned Latin Mass. Juvenal is also pursued by a television reporter, Kathy Worthington (Janeane Garofalo) and a tabloid TV show host, Debra Lusanne (Gina Gershon), who wants to televise his miracles live. Hill's scheme is to use an assistant record producer, Lynn Faulkner (Bridget Fonda), to pretend to be an alcoholic, get admitted to the center where Juvenal works, and find out more about Juvenal.
evangelism, investigation, journalism, love, miracle, pacifism, purity, reporter, virgin