France - - Contents - Pierre de Vil­liers

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.

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