Contrary to the claim of another reviewer, the plot made no excuse for statutory rape. And that reviewer, while stating that the young man, a youth pastor at his church, began a sexual relationship with the 15- year-old daughter of the pastor, omitted the fact that she came on to him and that he tried to reject her advances precisely because she was under age. Yes, he kept her letters, but not because he didn't take his recovery seriously. He's a man with a heart, and he truly cared for her.
The punishment he received was unjust because the girl and her father (reminder, he's a Christian pastor) lied under oath at the trial. The girl admitted that when she sought him out after he returned to the town. I'll state that again--she sought him out, not vice versa. She wanted his forgiveness.
The film does not try to mitigate his crime. The film does not try in some convoluted way to blame the girls' father (again, a Christian pastor who lied under oath). The film does not contend that he's cured (I don't even know what the reviewer is referring to here). In no way did the film attempt to justify James' action. Contrary to the reviewer's claim, James did in fact try to present legal papers to his new employer, who rejected them.
Perhaps this is more of a review of that reviewer than the film, but that review irritated me. I thought it was very unfair, so I wanted to respond.
What made MY skin crawl was the hypocrisy of the Christian pastor. He was a real wacko. Still, I enjoyed Ray Wise's performance, as I always do--from the Devil in Reaper to a devilish pastor in Away From Here.
Nick Stahl and Alicia Witt were outstanding. I highly recommend the film.