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Review: ‘The Healer’ gives, but doesn’t work

Oliver Jackson Cohen and Kaitlyn Bernard in the film “The Healer.”
Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Kaitlyn Bernard in the film “The Healer.”
(Vision Films)

Should a film be exempt from standard critical evaluation because 100% of its net proceeds are being donated to charity?

That’s the challenge posed by “The Healer,” a faith-based dramedy about a reluctant miracle worker. The film bills itself as the first to be so altruistic, with the designated recipient being the Paul Newman-founded SeriousFun Children’s Network, which is devoted to kids with life-threatening illnesses.

One might be able to cut the meandering storyline some slack — in which Alec (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a womanizing British electrical repairman, is given a shot at redemption by his enigmatic Uncle Raymond (Jonathan Pryce), who will ensure that his mounting debt to Russian mobsters is repaid, provided Alec relocate to Lunenburg, Canada, where he’d be expected to heal the infirm.

Initially, the dubious Alec chooses not to believe he’s the chosen one until a perky veterinarian (Camilla Luddington) and an irrepressible teenager diagnosed with terminal cancer (Kaitlyn Bernard) help change his mind.

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It might also be possible to overlook writer-director Paco Arango’s gratingly mawkish style, the constant tonal shifts, the all-over-the-place performances and that overbearing twinkly score, and just focus on that surrounding pastoral greenery in all its idyllic glory.

Perhaps in the unique case of “The Healer,” it could just be said that although the cause may be noble, the end effect is decidedly less rewarding.

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‘The Healer’

Not rated

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Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Playing: Starts Sept. 28, AMC Universal CityWalk 19; also on VOD


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