This is a very unusual movie, in more ways than one. It is about faith - Christian faith - real and fake; not something Hollywood turns its attention to very often, unless it wants to portray Christianity and Christians in a negative way. That's what I thought this movie was about as well when I first started watching it. Steve Martin plays a fake faith-healer who travels around the country doing showy "revivals" with lively worship music and staged "miracles." Jonas Nightengale, the fraudulent preacher, has staff and gadgets helping him to trick the public into believing that he hears from God and delivers physical healing through prayer; in reality, what he is after is, of course, money - donations and offerings,
Like I said, I first thought the movie's sole purpose was to attack and "expose" faith-healing and/or traveling evangelists. If you have ever attended a Charismatic / Pentecostal event like this (I have), you will find it all very recognisable, even though a bit extreme. However, I was wrong. The movie's point is not that all Christian evangelists are after money and all their miracles are fake. While Jonas Nightengale is a fraud, there is one real miracle that takes place in the end of the movie, and there is no mistake as to Who did it and why. A crippled teenage boy believes in Jonas's message - and in Jesus's power to heal - and approaches the preacher hoping for a miracle. I had no idea what to expect... perhaps a showy prayer and then some excuse, a rehearsed advice to go home and keep believing or something like that... But when Jesus is called on, He sees the boy's faith, and answers. I thought that was beautiful.