Pierre de Villiers explores the politics and power of religion in The Apparition.
Starring: Vincent Lindon, Galatea Bellugi Director: Xavier Giannoli Certificate: 12A Running time: 137 minutes Release date: 3 August
Clocking in at over two hours and moving at snooze-inducing pace, The Apparition will, at times, test your faith in director Xavier Giannoli. Thank heavens, then, for Galatea Bellugi – the young actress putting on a haunting performance to keep the filmmaker’s project on the right path.
An intricate plot sees traumatised war correspondent Jacques (Lindon) summoned to the Vatican by a French cardinal to undertake a special project on behalf of the Catholic Church. In the South of France, teenager Anna (Giannoli) claims she has seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary, turning her small town into a magnet for pilgrims. Jacques, a man with a reputation for getting to the truth, is dispatched to carry out a canonical investigation and determine whether she’s lying. Upon arrival at the religious site he’s intrigued by the youngster, whose piety seems in stark contrast with the mercenary attitude of priests keen to exploit her new status. As Jacques starts digging, he realises there’s more to her claim than meets the eye.
A provocative look at the power and perils of religion, The Apparition will keep you guessing at Anna’s motives until the very end. Whether the action takes place in Rome, the Middle East or the South of France, the movie always looks stunning, while Lindon, wearing his best quizzical, hangdog expression, is the ideal man to guide us through the mysterious world of Marian apparitions. He’s upstaged, though, by Bellugi whose multi-layered performance as the ethereal, vulnerable Anna elevates The Apparition to a higher plane.