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Of Gods and Men

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While not a documentary, “Of Gods and Men” focuses on a group that is nonetheless real: French monks.

Either way, you can’t get further from “Fast Five” this weekend. Hope you like subtitles.  

Opening Friday exclusively at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W Memorial, the Cannes Film Festival winner from writer/director Xavier Beauvois nails — or so I assume — the lifelong commitment of Trappist monks who live a day-in-day-out life defined by ritual.

They go about their business of prayer and humanitarian work in a dirt-poor Algerian community, but find their rigid schedule upturned by the arrival of armed, radical Muslims, who invade their monastery and cluelessly demand, “Where’s the pope?”

From there, the fact-based “Of Gods” is all about fleeing or fighting — in the monks’ case, fighting simply means staying put and having faith that God will work things out ... even if fundamentalist terrorists aren’t exactly known for being open to negotiating peace.

Many parallels can be drawn between these two sides, and the film presents challenges to audiences as well, both in thought and length. I can’t say I enjoyed the experience — in fact, so excellent a job the film does in depicting what must be a dreadfully dull life, I was lulled into a state of numbness — but pieces may haunt you long after its tragic end is reached. —Rod Lott

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