Lourdes Review: Blessing In Disguise


lourdes300x210LOURDES (U): On Limited Release From 26th March 2010

If you’re looking for something off the beaten track this weekend, then I implore you to go and watch Lourdes.

This film is a little French diamond and it would be a crying shame if it went unnoticed among the other Bullocks on this weekend, so make sure you follow Auntie Em’s advice and see it.

Hundreds of thousands of people travel to the holy site in the French town of Lourdes every year in order to be healed both physically and spiritually. While many leave disappointed, still afflicted by what ails them, a special few experience a miraculous recovery, unexplained by science but seemingly caused by the healing powers of the site.

Christine is one such person; she suffers from MS so badly that she’s paralyzed from the neck down. In order to make some kind of connection to other people and God, Christine joins a pilgrimage group heading to Lourdes. After a while she begins to regain her strength and finds herself facing a new life. What will she do with her new found vitality and how will the object of her affection, the handsome Kuno, react to the news?

What the film does so brilliantly is rejoice in Christine’s recovery and showcases the effects of such a miracle on other people. It evokes such jealousy and suspicion in those around Christine, but writer and director Jessica Hausner keeps Christine’s story sympathetic without falling into outright pity.

The film is a desperately slow affair but in the best possible way; the camera is as paralysed as Christine and barely manages to pan around more than a handful of times, giving a carefully considered view of the proceedings. This effect portrays people in a more naturalistic way and means that the stunning French scenery doesn’t take over the small scale story.

Christine is played exceptionally by Sylvie Testud and even though she has hardly any lines, her restrained performance is captivating. Her co-stars all have their own small sub-plots and provide the film with humanity and reserved affection but hers is the only stand out performance.

It’s quiet, slow and full of interesting characters, proving that not all French films have to be Amelie to make an impression.