Disney+ has just released this dark thriller at the heart of religious fundamentalism, which recalls the best hours of True Detective. By order of God does not escape leaden lengths, but captivates by the dazzling performance of Andrew Garfield.
From the first minutes, By order of God grabs us with its tragic atmosphere and its already moving piano notes. Jeb Pyre, a police inspector with an unwavering Mormon faith, thus discovers before our eyes that a young woman and her 15-month-old baby have just been brutally murdered. And the episode hadn’t even started ten minutes before Andrew Garfield’s tear-filled eyes immediately broke our flabby little hearts in two.
By order of God, available on Disney +, is clearly not a cakewalk and looks more like a Stations of the Cross. In the manner of True Detective Where Twin Peaks, the series immerses us in a small town without history, in the heart of Utah in the 1980s. Here, the majority of the inhabitants are gathered within the Mormon community of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An ultra-religious context, in which the detective Jeb Pyre also bathes since he is a fervent practitioner. Except that this atrocious crime will lead him into an infernal spiral and question his entire faith in a religion he thought was exemplary.
The rhythm of a snail
Inspired by the book by Jon Krakauer, the author ofInto the Wild, the seven episodes of By order of God (Where Under the Banner of Heaven in the original version) develop a long investigation over several days, with a slowness that is sometimes too compelling. Obviously, the subject requires taking your time. The series shows very well the reality and the difficulty of certain police investigations, particularly in the 1980s. It also shows the progressive descent into hell of certain communities in the most terrifying religious fanaticism.
But we must admit that the rhythm of this thriller will clearly not please everyone: the plot moves as slowly as a snail (seven episodes of one hour each…) and the series sometimes dwells on details one little heavy. By order of God returns regularly, in the form of flashbacks of the 19th century, on the origin of the Mormon religion. Historical reminders which we would have done well without and which weigh down the story.
A casting with small onions
The series still has the originality of not focusing solely on a police mystery, but rather above all on the reasons that lead to religious fundamentalism, even if it means taking life. The parallels with current events are obviously striking, and By order of God effortlessly creates a moving atmosphere from the beginning to the end of its seven dark episodes.
A tour de force also allowed by a cast with small onions, which serves the narration magnificently. As usual with this actor, the empathy for Andrew Garfield is immediate. The ex-interpreter Spiderman here takes on the main role of Jeb Pyre, torn between his religious convictions and the horror of criminal situations. The frequent parallels between the investigation and his private life, this pious existence that he built for himself year after year, are also magnificent. The actor is surrounded by great actors like Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People), Sam Worthington (Avatar) or Wyatt Russell (Falcon and the Winter Soldier).
By order of God seduces as much on the bottom as on the form
This solid distribution thus perfectly highlights an intelligent narration, which tackles pell-mell the origin of religion, the reasons for certain beliefs, the sexism of society but above all of certain toxic communities, or parenthood. Looking at By order of Godwe can’t help but think of the excellent series True Detective Where mindhunteras much as in the cinema of Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Midnight Special). So many works that examine the United States in all their darkness, with a unique aesthetic.
This mini-series in seven episodes is the worthy heiress of its predecessors and imposes its heavy religious atmosphere brilliantly. From a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, who worked on the film Harvey Milk and the great series When We Rise on LGBTQIA+ struggles, By order of God seduces as much on the bottom as on the form. This thriller simply lacks a bit of rhythm to set itself up as a reference for the small screen (and that we don’t fall asleep before the end especially). Shame.
- Andrew Garfield, at the top
- An intelligent religious and political statement
- A unique atmosphere
We liked less
- A lot
When True Detective meet mindhunter and Twin Peaks, this gives By order of God. This obscure thriller plunges us into the crisis of faith of Detective Jeb Pyre, a practicing Mormon and exemplary family man. But when he investigates the murder of two members of his community, a young woman and her newborn baby, he will discover that his religion may not be the one he believed… Andrew Garfield magnificently embodies this tormented character and overwhelming, constantly on the verge of tears. For her iconic performance alone, the seven-part series is worth watching. But prepare to nose dive in front of certain sequences, far too slow to really captivate in the long term.