The Counsellor’s Choice

It’s an odd thing to do a review of a movie poster (!) and this is not really a review – just a reaction. As I was doing the school run this morning I watched a bus pull out of the school with a huge poster on the side. It was an advert for Ridley Scott’s latest movie, The Counsellor,¬†which I have not seen. So I looked up the plot. It’s apparently about a counsellor who makes a bad choice. He decides to get involved with a drug deal in order to set himself up for life, financially speaking. However, it goes badly wrong and the repercussions are plenty.

My reason for writing this was not so much the title, or the cast, or even the plot of the movie. Initially it was simply this – the strapline. The line of text beneath the title, which reads like this.

Sin is a choice.

Writing as I do about religion and faith a lot I try to avoid the word sin because I think it is a misunderstood word, with a lot of excess baggage. In my humble opinion. However, here is a film advertising itself on the very thing that Paul talks about rather a lot in his Biblical letter (or email) to the Romans, chapter 7. (It was a long email.)

Paul said that he was at war with himself because he often did things he didn’t want to do and didn’t do the things he felt he should do. He wrote about sin battling within him. Temptation pulling him to make unhelpful, damaging and uncaring decisions. Decisions with bad repercussions.

I found this quote from the film in a review of The Counsellor in Empire magazine: ‘You are at a cross in the road and here you think to choose. But here there is no choosing. There is only accepting. The choosing was done long ago.’ A quote which makes me think about the damaging decision made by the first Adam, long ago, and the healthy decision made by Jesus the second Adam. One creating the problem, the other providing a way forward. At, you might say, a cross in the road.

I’m cautious to talk about sin because it can sometime appear that we Christians are obsessed with it. It seems to occur rather a lot in some of our songs and sermons and services. Jesus however, was not obsessed with sin, he was obsessed with life. One quick example. When he and his disciples meet a blind man his friends are desperate for the gossip – whose sin caused the man to be blind. They could only see the man’s predicament as a punishment for some dark family sin. Jesus refuses to respond to that. Instead he heals the man and brings him a whole new life. (Check this out in John chapter 9 vv 1-7.) This was actually a double life-affirming whammy, because Siloam had been the scene of a terrible accident, a tower had fallen and crushed 18 people. Jesus performed a miracle there, and though he could not correct the damage done by the accident, he at least gave the people there a new story to tell. One of hope and healing.

To return to the poster and its strapline, you can read about Paul and his struggles in Romans chapters 7 and 8. I find it profoundly heartening that he’s so honest. I’ve not yet seen The Counsellor, and I may not, but I can identify with the strapline. Surely we all can. Life is full of tough choices. Always has been. But Jesus is still present, obsessed with bringing life and hope. At that cross in the road.

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  1. Ben Gough says:

    I’ve also not seen the film but it seems that this is kind of a new brand of sympathetic anti-hero story telling that’s been emerging for the last few years off of the back of successful tv series; in this case Breaking Bad immediately came to mind, not sure if you’ve seen it but the beginning of the plot is very similar. Making the choice to do something wrong to provide for family in the wake of a potential disaster and it’s ramifications on the person making those choices. Are the reviews for this film any good? Always enjoy your blogs mate.

    Ben Gough

  2. dave says:

    Thanks Ben – I haven’t seen Breaking Bad though I have heard lots about it. I think it recently won lots of awards? The reviews of this are good, though Mark Kermode had his doubts. Apparently there are lots of long, grand speeches, and not all of them work so well. Empire and Total Film liked it though. It’s written by Cormack McCarthy (The Road and No Country for Old Men)

  3. Jesse says:

    Stay clear of The Councellor. It’s a waste of time. I had hoped that with McCarthy writing it, it might be clever (I knew it would also be violent due to what I’d seen in No Country and The Road) but it was just bad. No bad acting by any of the good actors, but you just didn’t care. You expected most people to be killed off and when you did, you didn’t care about them because they are all just greedy gangsters. There wasn’t a redeeming moment in it. In fact it reminded me of Game of Thrones (which I’ve given up on) all these evil characters and no hope, good council, wisdom or love. I started breaking bad and though it’s well made I’ve decided that they, Games of Thrones and Mexican drug dealers all need Jesus!

  4. dave says:

    That’s the kind of feeling I got from hearing Mark Kermode, Jesse, he seemed to think it was disappointing that with such great actors, director and writer it should have ended up like this. Thanks for the advice.

  5. Tim Childs says:

    This is highly topical for me Dave. Hope you are well btw?! I have finally got involved with church because I am struggling with issues I need help with and as we all know we do things we don’t want to do and don’t do the things we should do!!! Such is life mate.

    I have issues that need help with and I am putting God first now and things are slowly getting better. When we actively sin, it is often from a process where we have entertained the idea for a while and refused to fight back but have mulled it over, with bad consequences. Focus on Jesus, and not on the problem or struggle you have. Give it all to Jesus, because you cannot in your own strength win a spiritual battle or overcome an addiction, simply because almost always it is a spiritual malaise and for that we need Jesus fighting in our corner. He is our Rock; or perhaps our Rocky!!!

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