An acquaintance at my (non-Catholic) church told me recently about a wonderful, saintly woman that he had known many years ago, who had devoted her life to helping the poor. When he said that her name was Dorothy Day, it didn't really ring a bell. But a few days later this movie was on a cable channel, and I knew that I had to watch this.
The movie totally blew me away! It was great seeing Dorothy slowly learning to accept a form of religion, then trying to apply that to her life. It seemed as though the more she applied the lessons, the tougher the lessons got. And the ultimate lesson of the movie was one of compassion: how can you care for people who won't care for themselves? How can you feed and give shelter to winos, prostitutes, drug addicts, and the insane? Add to this the difficulties presented by the Depression, and the fact that most people at that time thought that Dorothy was either evil or foolish.
I enjoyed the way that they portrayed the lead characters as being well-meaning but sometimes less than perfect, having doubts along the way about whether their actions really had any value (in other words, they were depicted realistically). Watching the movie, you can't help but learn vicariously through Dorothy's actions, evolving as she's evolving, until she reaches that level where she can finally see the good in everyone.
This is something that we all need to learn. We can't all become a Dorothy Day or a Peter Maurin (her mentor), but at least we can try to move in the right direction.