Father Stu, the movie
It’s a question all of us ask, or should. But the phrase is Mark Wahlburg’s explanation for what he calls his “passion project,” the film Father Stu. Coarse, raw, and at times, vulgar, this movie is ideally suited for Holy Week and today, Resurrection Day. But it takes a while to understand this.
The true story (Biopic, in Hollywood parlance) is that of Stuart Long, a former Montana boxer who moves to Hollywood to be discovered as an actor. Wahlburg’s Stu is obnoxious. And so is his father Bill, Mel Gibson. Less so, but still rough, is his mother, Jacki Weaver. This isn’t a pretty story.
And yet, it feels simply real. Like Stu’s mother’s response to his gripe that he refuses to get a “blue-collar job.” Her whiny reply? “But Stu, what else is there?” the stark reality for many.
Ed Langlois writes, “Jaws dropped in Helena, Mont., when Father Stuart “Stu” Long was ordained a priest in 2007.
“I knew a Stu Long in high school, but it can’t be the same guy,” was the reaction of one former classmate. The Stu he had known growing up in Helena had muscled and gabbed his way through street fights, football games and boxing matches before becoming a bouncer and then a bit actor in Hollywood.”
Certainly, most definitely, not the climate from which profound, jaw-dropping saintliness and holiness emerges.
And yet they do.
Much of the movie centers on this seriously self-destructive guy who seems fated to be a clone of his alcoholic and abusive father. I believe that the film is ideally suited to Holy Week is because its last thirty to forty-five minutes plunge us deep into the belly of a level of suffering rarely experienced in a movie, (we can’t just watch, we’re pulled in) unless it’s called The Passion of Christ. Therefore, upon coming out of the movie into the San Antonio sunshine, I was unable to speak about it to John or our friend, Father Dan Crahen, because I had no words.
But this is a movie that sticks, hence, this tribute to an extraordinary story and Mark Wahlburg’s magnificent portrayal of Father Stu..
Wahlburg explains in an interview with Raymond Arroyo that he asks that question frequently of himself. His decision to do the story of Father Stuart Long came from a meeting with a couple of priests in which Wahlburg was ‘just trying to enjoy a glass of wine.’
“Why do you keep pitching me this movie? You know nothing about movies in Hollywood.”
Later on in the interview, the actor remembers the moment when he decided to “break the cardinal rule” of putting his own money into a film:
Stu was one of the most brutally honest … I actually remember now, what the thing that stuck out to me [was]: Father Ed was telling me a story about how Stu was already in the assisted-living home. There was a giant line of people waiting. He was a very prideful guy, so he wanted to continue to take care of himself, even as his sickness [inclusion body myositis] worsened. And he was just trying to wash his face in the sink. And this woman barged in, and she basically cut the line. And she was a big contributor to the Church. So she felt like she had the right to access Stu at any time. I’ll give you the mild version. I won’t give you the hard-rated R language that Stu used at the time. But he was there. He was just trying to wash his face. And she was complaining her car window had gotten broke, and they stole her computer. And he looked at her and he said, “Good, you probably deserve that. And the guys probably need it more than you do. Now, give some more money to the Church, and get out of here. I got people that I need to talk to.”
And again, I changed the wording a little bit for our family audience. But I was like, he was a brutally honest guy, but he touched so many people; so many people could relate to him. And he told the truth. And …Mark Wahlburg talks with Raymond Arroyo
Reposted from Aleteia: Testimony of Father Stuart Long. the priest who died at the age of 50 explains his early life, conversion, illness and his intimate experience with suffering.
“We don’t get to choose what happens, only how we respond to it.”
By the end of the film, Mark Wahlburg’s physical transformation to the likeness of Father Stu is astonishing…even perhaps, miraculous
of a recent piece titled, Vatican ll’s Most Harrowing Line:
Tucked at the end of a hotly debated passage in Lumen Gentium about the Church’s role in salvation comes one sentence that has not received as much attention. What follows the statement that “all the Church’s children” have received their holy Catholic faith not from merit, but from “the special grace of Christ,” is the most harrowing line of Vatican II:
If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged. (LG 14)
In the twenty plus years I’ve been Catholic, I’ve met dozens of men and women who no longer practice their Catholic faith. Their stated reasons vary widely but boil down to disagreement with one or more of the precepts of the Church. I know my concern, at times anxiety, about them and their salvation emanates largely from my days as a staunch non-believer. Because I, far more than my cradle Catholic friends and husband, know the dangers of living life without God and the sacraments He instituted to bring us back to Him.
Hence my gratitude to Mark Wahlburg for the gift of his passion project, Father Stu, during this Easter season of 2022.
You mentioned a moment ago the R-rated language that Father Stu used. You don’t shy away from that in this movie, which I have to tell you, at first I thought, “Oh, wow.” And then, as you watch it, the language really gives it its authenticity. That’s who these people are. And, frankly, who your viewing audience is, in many ways. Was that the thinking there? Because, a lot of times, they’ll sanitize this for a family audience.
Yeah. We had always talked about what the tone of the movie was. And Father Ed had told me a wonderful story about how Father Stu and his dad and a couple of the friends went to go see The Fighter … and how much they loved the movie, but also how much it affected them in a much more personal way because it really reminded them a lot about aspects of their own life. And you know …people swear. We wanted to be brutally honest. We want to make sure that this movie is not exclusive to Catholics and devout people. This is inclusive to everybody who needs people. You remember what God’s mission was, right? He didn’t come to save the righteous.Mark Wahlburg talks with Raymond Arroyo