In 1926 America’s most famous evangelist is a woman. And she’s looking for a way out. Fed up with her own success, she gets swept up in her lover’s daydreams about Mexico and finds herself on a wild road trip towards the border. Based on true events. Mostly made up.
Aimee Semple McPherson was a Pentecostal evangelist in the 1920s-30s and a noted pioneer in the use of media. In 1926 she briefly disappeared from her Los Angeles activities and was found after five weeks in a shack in Mexico, claiming to have been kidnapped and held for ransom. This much is true. In the new comedy Sister Aimee, writer-director duo Samantha Buck and Marie Schlingmann focus on this brief 5-week window of time to fabricate a charming road movie about this larger-than-life personality that was way ahead of her time and better than any of her male counterparts on the scene at that time.
The film begins as Sister Aimee (Anna Margaret Hollyman) is in the middle of one of her famous sermon stage productions. Leaving the stage her assistants inform her that things aren’t going all that well numbers-wise and they suggest some more showy healings. They suggest healing a blind baby and Aimee barks, “No, God doesn’t have it in him” like a fast-talking newspaper editor. Cornered and at a creative impasse, Aimee is at a loss. Then she meets Kenny (Michael Mosley), a reporter who is fascinated with Mexican history and, in particular, the story of Ponch Villa. The two hit it off, and Aimee decides to stir things up by staging her disappearance and heading off to Mexico with her new fling. Aimee’ assistant, Hazel (Lee Eddy) is tasked with informing the police that her boss evaporated into thin air and the road movie begins.
“…she briefly disappeared from her Los Angeles activities and was found after five weeks in a shack in Mexico…”
With the police interrogating everyone that could have had the motive to do Aimee in as the B-Plot, we follow Aimee and Kenny as they attempt to head for Mexico and vanish. It is here that they hire a savvy guide to help them avoid notice. They hire Rey (Andrea Suarez Paz), a gritty, resourceful southwesterner to help them and the three are on their way. Of course with any adventure, road picture there are perils, hijinks, and close calls. I won’t spoil the fun as it is best to let this movie unfold, not knowing really where things will go. Suffice it to say that both Aimee and Rey begin to develop mutual respect and relationship as each other recognizes each other as self-sufficient, powerful women.