Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Lourdes (2009)
Originally uploaded by Lord_Henry
Unable to take care of herself or move on her own, Christine goes on a group pilgrimage to Lourdes with medical aid not to partake in the religious experience, but to be able to travel. While everyone else on the trip seeks a miracle for their ailments, Christine expects nothing and instead tries to show interest in one of the men on the trip with them. However, no one besides an older companion shows Christine any concern until a miracle does happen and Christine is healed.

Lourdes has made the rounds at Sundance and international film festivals, I was only able to see it by making my way to the City of Angels Film Festival in Los Angeles. While I can’t say that I disliked Lourdes I’m not entirely sure why this film has made it into so many festivals; the film is intriguing, but poorly shot, adequately directed and other than acting, it’s only merits are that it is a not so thinly veiled critique of the faith of the masses.

In order to enjoy this film I had to put my film student hat back on, and literally try to “take notes” on the film as I watched it. Only by piecing things together in that very academic way was I able to get anything out of the movie. What I got out of it was interesting, but not what one would call entertaining and it was a very dry experience compounded by what I found to be very bland, unsure visuals.

What makes Lourdes worth study is that the film is a critique of faith – that is why it was playing at the City of Angels Film Festival. However, I sat through a panel after the film with one film scholar and two priests and listened to them argue that the film was a positive look at miracles and faith; let me tell you Lourdes is anything but. This is a film that thinks faith is a farce propagated by the masses where even the clergy goes through the motions and anything worth being a “miracle” must be quantified and qualified by a third party and only counts if it can be recorded. At one point in the film the priests and soldiers even tell a joke about the Father, Son & Spirit deciding to vacation in Lourdes as they’ve never been there before. In fact the moment Christine’s miracle occurs people begin to immediately doubt and question not only its validity, but why Christine would deserve such a thing. How any one was capable of getting a positive read of religion off this film I will never know.

In the end Lourdes is one in a long line of foreign films that like what happens to Christine, a group of people with similar views will be engaged and excited about the film but only for a short period of time until the shine wears off and something else comes along to distract them.

Director & Writer: Jessica Hausner
Christine: Sylvie Testud

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