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Faith, Fraud and Minimum Wage

Dramedy focuses on an atheist coming-of-age on the east coast

By Christen Thomas

Faith, Fraud and Minimum Wage
Directed by George Mihalka
(Moving Films Inc. / Les Productions Colin Neale Inc.)


Based on real-life events in Cape Breton, N.S., this gripping, coming-of-age dramedy is filled with soft-spoken humour, whip-smart religious puns, quirky characters and a poignant soundtrack.

Casey McMullen (Martha MacIsaac) is a self-proclaimed atheist in a fictionalized Nova Scotia town called Nately (its welcome sign vandalized to read “a good place to stop to pee”). With plenty of reasons for wavering belief, Casey is also in dire need of miracles. Between her exploitive boss at a coffee-shop job, her comatose sister, Meg, in hospital, and a single-parent father too obsessed with Meg’s impossible recovery to make mortgage payments, Casey struggles to grow up and not run away.

In a fit of frustration, she hurls a cup of coffee at the wall of Krowne Donuts and manipulates the resulting mess into an image of Jesus. This religious hoax promptly turns the quiet town into a faith circus. As Krowne Donuts rapidly sells out of coffee and food, owner Bob pressures the community’s floundering young priest to endorse the divine manifestation and convince Casey to fall in line with his plan. Bob wants to spin Casey’s disbelief into born-again renewal, a feel-good ending that would surely bring more attention and better business.

But with cash rolling in to help her family, bullies offering sudden respect, a new love interest and her unexpected celebrity status, will Casey backpedal and publicly confess? Having told everyone what to believe in, she finally considers the question herself.

The film offers no predictable happy ending, but rather a healthy serving of non-preachy, tear-brimming hope.

Christen Thomas is a poet and editor in Halifax.



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