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Friday, October 22, 2010

Lourdes


There are movies that just mesmerize you like this Jessica Hausner film that will absolutely mesmerize you in so many levels that will blow your mind watching the layered story, the astonishing images and most of all the amazing storytelling. I was really dubious if I should watch or not this film, but finally decided to just watch and mentally ‘prepare’ myself to whatever was going to see.

As film has so many layers, let me start by sharing the one that spontaneously got me inside this mesmerizing film. I was born Catholic and was baptized in a rush because died when I was days-old and well, came back as I’m still here; but after my religious fifteen-years-old mass, religion left my life. Still had time to learn a lot about Catholicism so the first and second thirds of this film was a true experience of reliving rites and beliefs that I chose to leave behind and my honest reaction was to nervously laugh at the absurdity –yet puzzling- reactions, rites, belief, faith, etc that people have at was have been called the “Disneyland of Miracles”. The last third marveled me with people’s reactions to the miracle. This is a brief summary with my reactions to one layer of this amazing film but there is another layer that I feel like sharing.

From a cinematic point-of-view the layer that I enjoyed most even above the ‘emotional’ voyage was the one related to an almost perfect film about religion that is not religious. This is an extremely well designed voyage into the nature of miracles very similar to films by Cavalier, Rivette, Bresson, Reygadas and most of all Dreyer’s Ordet, which Hausner confirms was her source of inspiration. Aesthetically film belongs to this group, but Hausner does something different when approaches the idea of miracles with a detached, quizzical eye; this is what makes this film not only really mysterious but extremely interesting to watch if you are or are not familiar with the Catholic Church rites, as honestly maybe the film first third will enlighten you with objective facts that happen at Lourdes. Is the first third of the movie what looks and feels like a Lourdes pilgrimage documentary but also has other layer that works as an introduction to Christine, brilliantly played by Sylvie Testud, with her perspective of everything she’s seeing and living.

Second third starts to explore the small group perspective about what they’re living and doing in this pilgrimage. Most amazing is the joke told by one member from the Order of Malta about Virgin Mary approving God’s idea to go to Lourdes, as she never has been there; this serves as an example of the wry humor found in this segment and sets the mood to many other pilgrims behavior we will watch.

Final third is the most astonishing exploration about human and Catholic Church reactions to a (possible) miracle, which specifically tells about needs and dissatisfaction's of film other characters. Here is where Testud performance becomes the true miracle when her facial expressions and body language tell and reflect absolutely everything that words don’t tell; before this moment Testud performance was marvelously done only with her face as she was paralyzed from her neck down thanks to multiple sclerosis.

Definitively there are more layers to this story that some consider ‘blasphemous’, others call it Buñuel-esque, while others saw a profound yet controversial religious sentiment, etc. To me was obvious that the ample range of opinions prove the deliberate ambiguity of this cinema masterpiece by Jessica Hausner.

How can a filmmaker do this outstanding film? Not really a surprise but I was glad to find that Jessica Hausner was Michael Haneke’s pupil and ‘script girl’ which easily explains (to me) her amazing ability to so objectively tell a story about what many tend to do very subjectively. Chapeau to this outstanding director that shows superb mastery even when is only her third film.

Yes the film absolutely blew my mind and is one that I strongly recommend as excellent cinema that I believe could profoundly engage many even when movie has a slow pace, not much dialogue, many silences (but some extraordinary music score moments like when Bach’s Toccata and Fugue plays or when Herr Jesu Christ plays which not coincidentally is the theme from Tarkovsky’s Solaris –and there are more moments where music score is totally integrated to narrative), and many, but many, mind blowing takes with absolutely beautiful framed scenes. Marvelous, marvelous, marvelous.

Have to close with a line that have to share with you all as according to me brilliantly resumes what this film is all about: “The mysteries of life (which some call God) may remain unknowable, but in Hausner’s remarkable film, the needs and doubts of mankind are made all too clear.”

A must be seen film for many that honor me visiting this blog.

Big Enjoy!!!

Watch trailer @MOC

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