Stay Prayed Up

Stay Prayed Up, 2021, 1 ¼ stars

The gospel truth

Exclusive to MeierMovies, March 27, 2022

Eighty-two-year-old Lena “Ma” Mae Perry, the last surviving member of the North Carolinian vocal group the Branchettes, is a considerable talent in the world of gospel music. And her joy for living and penchant for helping others is infectious.

But that’s simply not enough to carry D.L. Anderson and Matthew Durning’s well-intentioned documentary, which, at just 74 minutes, still feels stretched thin. Indeed, amid its music (which gospel fans will enjoy) and slice-of-life moments, the film struggles to find a unique or fittingly impactful way of telling of Perry’s story. It also adopts the regrettable habit of appearing to preach the devout Christian message of its subjects rather than adopting a purely objective camera and viewpoint. God forbid we learn something unexpected, complicated or less than wonderful. To be blunt, the proselytizing was palpable.

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This capsule review is part of my coverage of the 2022 Florida Film Festival. For more information about the event and an index of reviews of other festival films, go here. For more information on this movie, visit IMDB.