Friday, October 8, 2010

The Most Hated Family in America (2007)

Geoffrey O'Connor


The Westborough Baptist Church believe that America is condemned by God because of its acceptance of homosexuality and rejection of His true teaching. The members of the church are overwhelmingly from one family – the Phelps family under the tutelage of Pastor Phelps – father or grandfather to many of the group. In an attempt to understand why they are so hated and try to get a grip on their beliefs, Louis Theroux spends several months with them at their home, talking to them as individuals and joining them on their pickets at the funerals of dead soldiers, whom they believe are dead because God is punishing the US.  Louis Theroux has made a name for himself in seeking out the weird and the wonderful characters and scenes in the world and managing to get close to them, using his affable and harmless manner to often reach the heart of the people and let them show more than they intended. And so it is here with the Phelps family – a group that we start out seeing as a group of religious cracks but gradually become more and more upsetting as the film goes on. The film does a great job of exploring its subjects and Louis effortlessly brings a lot out of some of them.


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