The Man Who Sued God


Directed by: Mark Joffe
Written by:John Clarke, Don Watson
Starring: Billy Connolly, Judy Davis, Colin Friels, Wendy Hughes, John Howard, Bille Brown
Released: October 25, 2001
Grade: C

Steve Myers (Connolly) was once a successful lawyer but unhappy with the degradation of the industry, turned his back on the law and became a simple fisherman.  It cost him his marriage but he’s still got the respect of his 12-year-old daughter, Rebecca, and the loyalty of his trusty dog, Arthur.  It’s all he really wants out of life.

That is until a freak storm arrives and his $150,000 boat is obliterated by a bolt of lightening.  When the wave of the near-death experience subsides, Steve is shocked to find his insurance company unwilling to fork over compensation for a new boat.  Apparently, his insurance policy doesn’t cover “acts of god” and this loophole leaves Steve feeling screwed by corporate bigwigs.

So just what does he do?  It’s useless suing the insurance companies as their policies are watertight but what about God?  Who’s to say what an “act of god” really is?  And so he begins an action against the church, as a representative of God, to prove that this truly wasn’t an “act of god”.

Siding with Steve is journalist Anna Redmond (Davis) who knows that to be successful, he’ll need the media on his side.  She acts as his media liaison and he’s soon front-page material with all of Sydney talking about his story.  The Churches and their lawyers are starting to take this seriously...

The Man Who Sued God is one of the most morally disgraceful films I have seen.  The performances are great and there’s nothing wrong with Mark Joffe’s (Cosi) direction but how anyone associated with the production can live with themselves is incomprehensible.

Another Australian production, The Bank, was released several weeks ago and targeted banks in a one-sided attempt to please audiences.  The Man Who Sued God goes even further with its blatant targeting of insurance companies.  The companies’ and their respective lawyers are treated as the bad guys, Billy Connolly’s Scottish accent will adore him to audiences as the good guy and there’s absolutely no in-between.

Without engaging in a heated debate on the global economic future, I do believe that corporations (and not people) run the world and in an era where a very small percentage of the population control most of the wealth, I’m not proud of the path we are taking.  You’d think my stance would favour such a film but nothing provocative is ever explored.  It’s nothing more than easy jokes against a traditional public enemy who isn’t given a chance to defend itself.  Does it come as a surprise that the film failed to mention the overwhelming fact that if such frivolous lawsuits were to exist, the price of insurance premiums would only rise to compensate?

The religious aspect of the film is also sure to offend.  Churches and their leaders are heavily criticised but save face in the final scenes when they realise the true error of their ways.  Again, this may be a comedy but the underlying subtext is rather sinister.

Telstra recorded a record profit of $4.1b last year so can I soon expect a lopsided comedy about a man who doesn’t pay his bill and gets away with it?  From the audience’s positive reaction to The Man Who Sued God, it’d be a sure hit.  Film is a powerful medium but when used as a tool for propaganda, it can become just as powerful a weapon.