Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waiting for the Miracle

Lourdes (2009) - Hausner
Lourdes, a small town in the Southwest France, famous for the Virgin Mary apparition is the mecca for the handicapped or terminally ill pilgrims in the hopes of a miracle. A young wheelchair bound woman (Sylvie Testud) is one of them among others in one of the groups. She has multiple sclerosis. She can only move her neck and barely move her arms. You get from the small chats she has with the nurses and priests, she is a lonely woman and the pilgrimages are the only way to be out and about. She doesn't seem too religious.

Lourdes is a quiet film. There are no big show of emotions or a religious epiphany. But the film is in no way strictly procedural either nor is it straight out character study. With static shots and slow zoom-ins, Austrian Jessica Hausner's film creates both sense of security and limited mobility. When the supposed miracle happens, rather than the true jubilation, Hausner hints at uncertain future and only slightly points out the hypocrisy in true devotion- Why her and not me? I'm much more religious, and so on. Not quite sure what to make of this film. I didn't mind its understated approach and Testud's performance carries the human warmth, but it's quite underwhelming. Elina Löwensohn as the mother superior and Léa Seydoux as a frumpy nurse make up the supporting cast.

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