Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Jessica Hausner's Lourdes

Whilst in Liverpool recently, I spoke about this film to a regular Lourdes pilgrim one mealtime.

Today, I received the comment that I reproduce below:
Frank Knight said...

I read your original review (of last October) this week, and was stimulated by it to go and see the film.

I found it deeply moving, tender, beautifully acted, extremely well scripted and superbly edited and dubbed. The scenes with the disabled were particularly subtle: without the exaggeration or tendentiousness they'd normally get in a US or GB film. The 'coolness' of the surface did not disturb me at all; on the contrary, it seemed to make the drama and its tensions more powerful. (And in any case, such rhythmic stylization is a normal spatial device in Franco-German theatre and cinema.)

The audience in the small cinema was audibly caught up, particularly at the key moments of surprise. No one wanted to leave before the very final credit.

I found it a riveting study of the ambiguity of belief-scepticism, very much in the classic 20th century tradition of Mauriac, Bernanos, Claudel and (in England) Graham Greene.

I can't see that a 'Catholic' film about such a subject could more effectively illuminate what - from human sight - seems to be a wilfully random divine intervention. Or that it could more lovingly portray hope, envy, despair, and simple compassion.

My conclusion was that Jessica Hausner has - consciously or unconsciously - retained far more of her faith than she perhaps realizes or wants to publicly accept. Having been through a similar trajectory in the past, I feel great sympathy.

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