You guys, I think I might have witnessed the second coming of Jesus Christ in the new Lifetime movie Twist of Faith. Or at least that’s who Lifetime was trying to tell me he was.
Maybe it’s just the conspiracy theorist in me who sped through The Da Vinci Code as a teenager. Maybe it’s just the fact that I sat through way too many high school English classes where students tried to claim that everyone from Holden Caulfield to Harry Potter was a Christ figure. Or maybe, just maybe, Lifetime knows Jesus.
Twist of Faith is just your typical film about murder, adultery, racism, religion, homelessness, attempted rape, gun violence, divorce, and singing! It stars Toni Braxton as Nina, a single mom who lives right next to her community church in Alabama. A man named Jacob (David Julian Hirsh) wanders into town like “a pile of scraps … a leaf in the wind” (his words). Yeah, yeah, we get it, and a plastic bag dancing in the breeze was the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. Jacob doesn’t reveal much about himself, but we know the truth.
Jacob used to be a Jewish cantor in Brooklyn. His wife looks a lot like Jennifer Connelly — meaning he’s not going to end up with her, because she always gets the shaft in everything she’s in (see: Little Children, He’s Just Not That Into You). In this case, it’s not because of Jacob, but rather because a mentally unstable man kills her and their three children on a bus. We knew it was going to happen because right before that Jacob’s daughter blew him a kiss through the bus window and said she loved him.
Jacob goes through all the stages of grief: walking down the street in slo-mo, refusing to speak, sleeping outside churches, whittling blocks of wood, and being too upset to eat his sandwich. Nina is reluctant to take him in, but her son Asher and her Uncle Moe tell her, “Matthew 25,” to which she replies, “Don’t be Matthew 25-in’ me!” and to which I replied, “I have no idea what that is.” Neither does Nina, apparently, because she has to look it up (mostly for the purpose of teaching heathens like me). They accept Jacob into their lives, and Nina starts trying to figure out who he is.
This is where the Jesusy stuff starts coming into play. Nina keeps a notepad on which she jots down, in very large, neat handwriting we can all read, some things she notices about Jacob. The first two items on the list: carpenter, religious. Okay, seriously? A Jewish carpenter who’s religious and whose name starts with J? You’re not fooling me, Lifetime! I know that’s Jesus!
Nina and Jacob come together to work on a song for an upcoming choir competition that the church has been struggling to practice for. Gee, an important project with a deadline that our characters have to deal with. Never, ever, ever seen that in a Lifetime movie before.
They of course win the contest after Nina very poorly lip-syncs to her own voice (should have hired Beyonce), and she and Jacob start falling for each other. But both the romance and the Jesus connections really blossom when Jacob saves the church from drunken racists who spray paint the walls in no particular design and try to assault Nina. As the pastor says afterward, “He was sent by God to be in this place.” Just. Like. Jesus.
I always thought OWN would be the network that would reintroduce us to Jesus. But I guess Lifetime makes sense, too. I mean, how else would they give us so many cinematic gifts from God if they didn’t know Jesus?