An escaped prison convict attempts to retrieve a loot hidden years ago in a lonely village. Sinister elders, strange disappearances, spirits, a peculiar priest and even the Archpriest of ... See full summary »
Xosé Manuel Olveira 'Pico',
Tormented by his denial of Christ, Peter spent his life attempting to atone for his failures. Now as he faces certain death at the hand of Nero, will he falter again, his weakness betray ... See full summary »
David, 20, makes robberies with his friends. One of their victim is a former soldier of the Algerian war. Fascinated and admiring, David is gradually getting closer to the old man: from their friendship will be born his new vocation.
Priscilla Chéron Caroni
In a small North Korean village near the border of China, there are believers who get together in an underground church, away from the eyes of the persecuting government. When the ... See full summary »
Jane desperately tries to awaken her faith in God. In her room, isolated with her lover from the rest of the world, she becomes overwhelmed with an uncontrolled flow of souvenirs, dreams and fantasies.
Sébastien, a great lover of his land in the Basque Country, is alone in taking care of the family farm as worries pile up. Sebastien falls in love with his new neighbor, Juliette, as Catholic as he is Pagan.
A difficult but necessary and somewhat cathartic experience...
"The Apostle" is a problematic film to review because it cut so straight to my heart I can't examine it without examining my own conscience.
Cheyenne Caron's film is likely to be labeled as Anti-Muslim but not because it's about a Muslim man who converts to Christianity (which is controversial enough) but because it dares to express the reasons that drive the conversion. Akim, a Muslim and aspiring Imam, finds in Jesus' teachings a universality that seemed to lack in Islam, I say "seemed" because I've never read the Quran entirely yet I consider myself a Muslim. But just as I'm aware that Islam is a universal religion, preaching good values such as charity, generosity and forgiveness, I know many Muslims who'll argue that the applications of these virtues shouldn't go outside the Muslim world, or in the best case, that Muslims should take care of their brothers first whereas Jesus saw everyone as a brother.
That's why Akim is instantly taken by Christianism, and it was bound to happen. First, we see him practicing Islam, praying at the right time, going to the mosque every Friday, all under the careful supervision of his hot-headed and more bigot brother Youssef and yet he seems like a fish out of the water. He answers the phone call during a prayer, he salutes a man considered a traitor because he changed his faith (while his brother refused to shake his hand), and he accepts an invitation to a baptism. Akim is a strong-willed fellow, resisting peer and family pressure and doing what seems to be the right thing to do, when he goes to church, it's not out of curiosity but out of politeness for a friend who did him a favor.
And the film escapes from the kind of Manicheism à la "Not Without My Daughter" by taking the right approach and not making Akim's family a hostile field with the exception of the brother, his sister doesn't wear the headscarf, his father is a meek and gentle fellow and the mother is obviously a French convert. So Akim's choice can't be seen as a rejection to his background but as some tiny pocket of introspection that lead him to a personal epiphany: the idea that there's a religion where (ironically) someone's religion doesn't matter. I don't think it's totally true and Christianism has it shares of rules (and in some aspects Islam can be more permissive if not progressive) but what matters is Akim's perception and one must know what it feels for a Muslim to visit a church for the first time.
Last time I did, it was during a funeral, the same year had started with another death and I could compare the two ceremonies; while in Muslim tradition, the psalms seem to beg God for mercy not to let the dead's soul rot in Hell, in the church, there was a sort of peacefulness making you believe that we'd all meet some day in a cloud of serenity at the Heaven's Gate. Now, is the film siding with converts? I guess it just tells the two perspectives and no one can deny that the worst thing that can happen in a Muslim community is someone's conversion. The real question isn't why Muslims can't stand it but why Christians don't mind? That's the point. Why are Muslims so visceral about faith? Maybe there's something of an insecurity going one, the idea that the best thing about religion is what keeps people together... as if nothing else could do the same, not even pure brotherhood or being part of the same planet.
"The Apostle" follows a slow escalation from curiosity to mild interest and then the progression seems inevitable and yet we dread the crucial moment where Akim will tell his family that he's a Christian, the climactic scene is one of the most intense I had to witness and not just because it was devastating but also because it features an interesting twist within the father's reaction, a man who once was told that Christians were more tolerant and for the first time was given a chance to subvert that comparison by showing tolerance toward his son's choice. That scene was so intense that maybe the film didn't need to venture into some displays of violence, from the shocking opening to the attack against Akim but those things exist and happen so ordinarily that it would have been naive to deny them, and they're actually downplayed in the film, so much that even those who criticize the "anti-Islam" stance would find the happy end incongruous.
I am still a Muslim after the film but I reckon it can be quite an ordeal as faith is like riding over in a bumpy road with so many up and downs, they call it doubt journey is Islam, one day, you're the most devoted believer and another, you're just watching terrorist attacks and feel tempted to throw everything away. Sometimes, it's just a matter of hazard, my ex-wife was raised by a Catholic mother but embraced her deceased father's religion Islam because she couldn't take the Trinity seriously. Akim uses it to reassure the young Imam, as if it was an inside joke within the community. It's true Muslims couldn't consider anyone as the son of God or find the idea of God fathering someone ludicrous, which made me wonder, if Christians didn't believe in Trinity or if Islam were open to other, which religion would have the most faiths?
"Apostle" is an eye-opening experience about the way religion is affecting lives and creates divisions despite its primal ambitions to bring people together. It doesn't give definite answers but the questions raised are so accurate that they exorcise the demons that are right not devouring French society... and the film was made before the Charlie Hebdo attacks and November 13, which makes it eerily prophetic.
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