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The Apparition: Faith and doubt, truth or lies?

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- Xavier Giannoli plunges Vincent Lindon into a captivating canonical inquiry about a supernatural phenomenon and its messenger, played by Galatea Bellugi

The Apparition: Faith and doubt, truth or lies?
Vincent Lindon (left) in The Apparition

A solitary man, suffering from severe tinnitus, accompanies a coffin onto a plane on the tarmac of a Middle-Eastern country in the midst of conflict. His profession? War correspondent. His mission? "To bring back evidence and images of the injustice and folly of our world." A mission that is certainly challenged by the death of a colleague and friend, and a subsequent overload that degenerates into severe post-traumatic stress. And it is this man, to his great surprise (no longer a practicing Catholic despite being baptised), that the Vatican asks to participate in a canonical investigation into an 18-year-old girl claiming to have seen the Virgin Mary in South-East France, threatening to "disturb public order" in the local area. And so begins The Apparition [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: Xavier Giannoli
film profile
]
, the new film by Xavier Giannoli, a director with an eye for lifting the veil on subjects that are often intriguing and always stimulating, and whose career has been punctuated by several festival appearances (in competition at Cannes in 2006 and 2009 with The Singer [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and In the Beginning [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, and at Venice with Superstar [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Xavier Giannoli
film profile
]
in 2012 and Marguerite [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Xavier Giannoli
film profile
]
in 2015).

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Here we find Jacques, our journalist (an excellent performance by Vincent Lindon), immersed in a religious affair whose key issues he knows little about. The rational framework for starters (a shortcoming which he makes up for by visiting the Holy Office archives, overflowing with files on appearances reported all over the world), as well as the investigative procedures, setting up meetings with the other members of the commission (a psychiatrist, a theologian, a priest, etc), and then the definition of the evaluation criteria (personal quality of the visionary, her message in relation to the doctrine, and her potential as a source of devotion). Not to mention the irrational, which manifests itself by way of a confrontation with the power of faith that brings Anna (the fascinating Galatea Bellugi) to life, attracting a cohort of overjoyed pilgrims, protected by the local priest (Patrick D'Assumçao) and fussed over by an economic organisation (posters and related objects) led by a man called Anton (Anatole Taubman). From interrogations to scientific tests, from looking for witnesses to deciphering the girl's past, from disconcerting coincidences to personal questions, Jacques will plunge into mystical territory in order to ascertain whether or not the very moving and charismatic Anna is telling the truth. 

An exciting film, The Apparition manages to create and maintain police-style suspense on a theme that doesn’t obviously develop as it might do on paper, thus allowing the filmmaker to focus on the ever-fluctuating area between belief and doubt, truth and lies. A humanist exploration, looking through the eyes of the two main protagonists, which benefits from highly evocative décor and some excellent work by Eric Gautier as the director of photography. Nevertheless, the "resolution" of the plot, closing the loop perhaps a little too perfectly, won’t fail to surprise the audience and provoke questions. A mystery of faith, perhaps, but not a mortal sin for a film that succeeds in transubstantiating a great cinematic ambition into a narrative that intelligently captures the viewer's attention.

Produced by Curiosa Films, The Apparition is sold internationally by Memento who will screen the film at the European Film Market at the68th Berlin Film Festival (from February 15 to 25 2018) and who will also be distributing the film in French cinemas on 14 February.

(Translated from French)

See also

Swiss Films Shorts
WBI Berlinale
Shooting Stars 2018
 

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