96 minutes| Austria-France-Germany| 2009| Subtitled| Colour

This film was released 26th March 2010 and is no longer screening.

Sceptical but never scornful, solemn but never over-reverent, this story of the hopeful travelling to the French pilgrimage site proves a masterclass in intriguing ambiguity. That the church authorities offered Austrian writer-director Jessica Hausner permission to film in these sensitive locations is one indication of her seriousness of intent. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this haunting film, however, is the way it ponders issues of faith and the miraculous while drawing on cinematic sources as diverse as Hitchcockian suspense and the sly choreographed wit of Jacques Tati. Gamine Sylvie Testud is utterly mesmerising as the Multiple Sclerosis sufferer whose life, it’s fair to say, will be changed forever by a group trip supervised by nursing volunteers from the Order of Malta. Undoubtedly alert to the essential strangeness of the Lourdes experience, Hausner’s approach also tellingly relates our essential longing for healing and change to both faithful and non-believers alike. Thought-provoking and hypnotically involving, it’s a celluloid miracle in itself. Notes by Trevor Johnston

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