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Film Reviews The Overnighters shows the dangers of following Jesus’s footsteps

This undated file photo from a film provided by Drafthouse Films shows Pastor Jay Reinke addressing the Overnighters from his church pulpit in a scene from the documentary "The Overnighters" that was filmed in North Dakota. The documentary looks at the gritty side of life in North Dakota's booming oil patch.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

3.5 out of 4 stars

Title
The Overnighters
Directed by
Jesse Moss

Director Jesse Moss's patiently observed documentary, shot during 2012 and 2013, is set in the oil-boom town of Williston, N.D., where Lutheran pastor Jay Reinke goes out of his way to help the influx of single men arriving in town, providing food, shelter and spiritual counselling, while they try to land jobs in the oil fields.

At the same time, neighbours and the church board grow concerned with the number of strangers sleeping at the church, in cars and in the pastor's house, especially when some of the migrants are identified by the local paper as sex offenders.

Moss's study of a clergyman who aspires to be like Jesus takes a startling turn in its last 10 minutes, in a powerful example of the camera as a truth-inducing machine. There's a late scene with Reinke's wife that feels too cruel to be on camera, but otherwise, everything in this story of shattered dreams and an embattled community feels as though it could have come from the imagination of John Steinbeck.

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