Lydia (JoAnn Nordstrom), a very pious and strict woman, insists on her
son Eli (Maddox Hayward) to sing at a certain church function, even though
everybody advises against it, the priest (Jim Garrow), the doctor (William
Le Good), and even Eli himself insists singing hurst his throat, and the
more he rehearses the worse he seems to get with the lyrics. And there's a
good reason for that, Eli is terminally ill, something his mother just
doesn't want to admit to herself. But is she doing her son any good by
being that insistant?
Stella Maris is quite a compelling
drama that manages to turn its simple story into a rather richly faceted
and yet relatable story. And while both thematically and stylistically
(including screen ratio and black and white imagery), the film might be
somewhat reminiscent of vaguely similar dramas from decades ago, it has
made style and story its own and feels like a breath of fresh air into
today's filmworld that usually shies to look backwards for inspiration.
And of course, a refusal to sugar-coat things or take sides, a focus on
atmosphere accompanied by fittingly moody music, as well as a strong cast
also help to make this a very unique movie!