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Movie review: Little passion in Joseph Smith biography

Published September 1, 2011 4:05 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Mark Twain uncharitably described The Book of Mormon as "chloroform in print," and this dramatic retelling of its translation will, for the nonfaithful and perhaps some faithful, have a similar sleep-inducing effect.

Writer-director Christian Vuissa begins the story of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' founder in 1826, when Smith (R. Dustin Harding) was a roving farm laborer pursuing two goals: courting Emma Hale (Lindsay M. Farr) over the objections of her minister father (Michael Flynn) and waiting to be given the golden plates so he could translate them and present a new gospel to the world.

Vuissa (whose LDS-friendly repertoire includes the sister-missionary tale "The Errand of Angels" and the Mormon-bishop drama "One Good Man") dutifully recounts the obstacles suffered by Smith in translating the plates, but the movie fails to muster any tension or passion for the events it re-enacts. The only spot of warmth is the tender romance between the idealistic Joseph and the steadfast Emma. Hhj

'Joseph Smith, Volume 1: Plates of Gold'

Opens today at area theaters; rated PG for some thematic elements; 104 minutes.