A couple attends a Pre-Cana retreat to test the "Certainty" of their commitment in Peter Askin's none-too-subtle Catholic cautionary tale.

A couple attends a Pre-Cana retreat to test the “Certainty” of their commitment in Peter Askin’s none-too-subtle Catholic cautionary tale. Scriptwriter Mike O’Malley, adapting his play, carefully normalizes and secularizes his characters to make them more relatable, painting them in meticulous shades of gray (one guy even cracks a joke about not wanting to close his eyes anywhere near a priest). But the observational niceties, liberally sprinkled about, cannot disguise the film’s inexorable moral agenda. Opening Nov. 30 at Gotham’s Quad, this exercise in Catholic adaptability will resonate only with the faithful.

Heavy-handed perfs by white-bread leads Adelaide Clemens and Dominic Colon emphasize the pettiness of the couple’s arguments, missing the wryness that might make their fallibility attractive. Valerie Harper essays a Catholic twist on her yakkety yenta “Rhoda” persona, while Giancarlo Esposito, as the wise, hip priest heading the retreat, is called upon to bring believability to a film low in that commodity. Other thesps, in secondary roles as well-coupled friends, try hard but never seem to inhabit the same movie.

Certainty

Production

A Reno production in association with Cinergy Picture. Produced by Will Battersby, Per Milita, Mike O'Malley. Co-producers, Linus Hume, Evan Pohl. Directed by Peter Askin. Screenplay, Mike O'Malley, from his play "Searching for Certainty."

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Sean Kirby; editor, Karen Lynn Weinberg; music, David Mansfield; music supervisor, Jonathan Leahy; production designer, Dara Wishingrad. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Nov. 27, 2012. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Adelaide Clemens, Dominic Colon, Tom Lipinski, Giancarlo Esposito, Valerie Harper, Tammy Blanchard, Kristen Connolly, Will Rogers, Bobby Moynihan.

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