“The Work and the Glory: American Zion,” a mouthful of a movie title, is film about one family’s struggle with its wayward son, Joshua (Eric Johnson), and the beginnings of the Mormon religious movement. The father of the family, Ben Steed (Sam Hennings), believes that Joseph Smith (Jonathan Scarfe) is tearing his family apart with his new religion, as Steed’s wife and other son have converted to the new faith. The Mormons, meanwhile, are being driven from town to town as citizens grow ever more fearful of them, and Joshua is one of the men behind their exile.
Elements of this film are extremely interesting. The persecution of the Mormons is a story on its own, as is the saga of the Steed family. The problem is that the two elements are combined in such a way that the entire film feels rushed. In fact, it almost seems like a good half hour or more was cut from the film, which makes it hard to have any kind of emotional attachment to the characters, and leads to a conclusion that is less than fulfilling. Good acting and excellent production values keep this from being a total failure of a film, however.