According to the onscreen titles, “Sister Aimee” is “5 1/2 percent truth,” the rest amusing, subversive, educated guesswork. What’s definitely true is that in 1926, a charismatic evangelist, faith-healer, and showwoman named Aimee Semple McPherson (played with delightful brashness by Anna Margaret Hollyman) disappeared in Los Angeles and reappeared several weeks later at the Mexican border. She claimed to have been kidnapped, but her story didn’t really check out, and the matter was never resolved.
The movie, written and directed by Samantha Buck and Marie Schlingmann, speculates on what really happened, using the known facts and some plausible conjecture as a starting point before going into full-blown fiction. Aimee and her radio engineer (Michael Mosley) fake her death, leave their spouses, and drive to Mexico, led by a Mexican guide (Andrea Suarez Paz) who doesn’t say much but is good at disarming threats. The film there evolves into a picaresque Western with some “Chicago”-style razzle-dazzle (including a song!) about a confident, successful woman finding out what her limits are. It doesn’t add up to much, but it’s amusing and lively, which is enough.
B (1 hr., 27 min.; )