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The Apostle (1997)

 -  Drama  -  30 January 1998 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 10,771 users   Metascore: 83/100
Reviews: 150 user | 88 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.

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Title: The Apostle (1997)

The Apostle (1997) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 14 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Horace
Paul Bagget ...
Tag Team Preacher #3 (as Brother Paul Bagget)
Lenore Banks ...
Female Sonny Supporter
...
Mary Lynette Braxton ...
Mother Blackwell
...
Helper
Christopher Canady ...
Sister Johnson's Twin
Christian Canady ...
Sister Johnson's Twin
...
Elizabeth Chisolm ...
Singer
William Atlas Cole ...
Bayou Man (as Brother William Atlas Cole)
Frank Collins Jr. ...
Soloist #4 (as Reverend Frank Collins Jr.)
Carl D. Cook ...
Civic Auditorium Preacher (as Prophet Carl D. Cook)
Naomi Craig ...
Scripture Reader
Wayne Dehart ...
Liquor Store Preacher
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Storyline

Eulis 'Sonny' Dewey is a preacher from Texas living a happy life with his beautiful wife Jessie. Suddenly his stable world crumbles: Jessie is having an affair with young minister Horace. Sonny gets enraged and hits Horace with a softball bat, putting him into a coma. After that he leaves town, takes a new name, 'Apostle E.F.' and goes to Louisiana. There he starts to work as a mechanic for local radio station owner Elmo, and Elmo lets him preach on the radio. E.F. starts to preach everywhere: on the radio, on the streets, and with his new friend, Reverend Blackwell he starts a campaign to renovate an old church. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The hardest soul to save was his own. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and a related scene of violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 January 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Apostel!  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$40,969 (USA) (19 December 1997)

Gross:

$20,733,485 (USA) (12 June 1998)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Farrah Fawcett's cousin, Jan Fawcett, played a stand in for her part. See more »

Goofs

When E.F.'s ex called the police (and the "Bayou Boutte" dispatcher supposedly answered), she would have actually called the Fort Worth P.D. homicide division, to inform that Sonny (aka E.F.) is in Bayou Boutte, Louisiana, since the incident is under Ft. Worth, Texas' jurisdiction. Also Bayou Boutte is quite likely too small for its own police department, let alone a homicide division. See more »

Quotes

[Sonny sees his momma laying on the floor]
Sonny: Mama, I can't take you with me now, so get on back in your chair. Now i know you've died on me and gone on home to heavan so i hope you can still hear me. Now, you be good while i'm gone and i'll call you tonight okay? I can't take you with me now. Alright? Eh? Eh, Mama?
[as hes going out the door]
Sonny: Hug St. Peters neck for me would ya? Bye Mama, kiss an angel for me. Gotta hit the road Mama, i gotta work! Gotta go to work!
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the end credits there is a scene showing Sonny (Robert Duvall) preaching to the prisoners during out-of-prison work. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Journey of 'The Apostle' (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Handwriting on the Wall
Written by Mel Mallory
Performed by Little Leo
Courtesy of Tuff City/Night Train International Records
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

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User Reviews

A story of spiritual struggle
27 December 2001 | by (Chicago, Illinois) – See all my reviews

In order to fully appreciate "The Apostle" it might help to have some experience with southern Pentecostal culture. I do, and was completely taken in by the film. My wife, on the other hand, doesn't have that experience and understands neither the film nor my fondness for it. But I think that, if one is not distracted or confused or simply put off by the loud, emotional, sometimes corny religiosity portrayed here, one can see a strong, compelling story of a seriously, ultimately fatally flawed man whose faith in God and in God's mission for him reaches to his very core.

On the surface, one can view Sonny Dewey as just another example of a certain type of religious fraud: the backslapping, perpetually-grinning, wisecracking good old boy who uses religion and exploits his flock for his own selfish ends. He looks like someone who doesn't practice what he preaches. He womanizes, he's not above taking a snort from this pocket flask, he has a troubled marriage and we get the hint that he is the source of more than his share of the trouble, even to the extent of driving his wife into the arms of another man. He seems to be just another Elmer Gantry or, to pick from the real world, he's just like one of the fallen televangelists of recent years. But just when you're comfortable with that judgment of him, Sonny proves you wrong. He admits to his faults, some more freely than others. But he makes no excuses for them and, in the end, he knows that he is going to pay for them.

What really draws me into the film, and what really makes Sonny interesting for me, is the way Duvall has made him such a complex character. He's a bad guy and a good guy. He is darkness and he is light. He is sometimes endearing and other times someone you really don't feel comfortable trusting. But by creating this ambiguity, Duvall does a service not only to the way religious leaders are characterized in film, he also pays homage to core religious issues. By diving into the murky waters of Sonny's soul, Duvall goes into territory known to any seriously religious person. As much as you might want things to be black and white, a good portion of the time you're being pulled back into the shadows: there are good intentions and evil deeds; there are selfless aspirations and appetites to be fed. Sometimes you swing wildly from one side to the other. Sometimes you are on an even keel. Sometimes you're not sure.

Faith and work determine how such a struggle will turn out. Sonny is energized by both. He believes in what he is doing. He believes that God has given him a mission and he is determined to accomplish it, even in spite of himself. While it might be tempting to make a stark contrast between the message Sonny preaches and the actions he has done that are contrary to it, one must always remember that a good preacher always preaches to himself as well as his congregation. But some of the more revealing moments of the film are not when Sonny is in front of a congregation, or even with other people generally, but when he is alone with God: ranting at God in anger; dedicating himself to God in the moment that he becomes the Apostle; the soul-searching moments when he forgives his wife and resigns himself to his fate.

The no-punches-pulled realness of Sonny's struggle is a refreshing departure from the usual film portrayals of religious figures: plaster saint, con-man, one-dimensional milquetoast. But it also brings to the forefront the question of whether Sonny, or any of us, can be used for divine purpose.

"The Apostle" is beautifully filmed and captures well a portion of the rural South: you can almost feel the humidity and smell the swampwater. And while the well-known actors in the film (Farrah Fawcett, Billy Bob Thornton, Miranda Richardson) all turn in fine performances, it is the unknowns --the church members and townfolk -- that really give the film an added authenticity.


74 of 76 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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