Apart from a brief burst of harsh language, Stella Days is the sort of movie you could take your grandmother to see without regret. Martin Sheen stars as Father Barry, a small-town priest in 1950s Ireland who longs for the sophistication of the Rome he knew in his youth. Instead, he oversees a flock that's wary of the town's newly arrived electricity, and he tangles with a local politician who opposes on moral grounds the cinema the priest desperately wants to build. Sheen apparently knows a good character study when he sees one, as he throws himself into this mature role like nothing since his turn as Capt. Willard in Apocalypse Now more than 30 years ago.
Stella Days doesn't break any new ground or challenge audiences. It benefits from a certain understated elegance, and its modesty feels like a breath of fresh air. Sometimes good is a lot more than good enough. Especially in summer. — KEN KORMAN