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The Apostle (1998)


Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 41
Rotten: 4

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 11
Fresh: 10
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 7,911



Movie Info

Robert Duvall wrote, directed and earned an Academy Award nomination for his lead performance in The Apostle, a tale of a deeply troubled Southern Pentecostal preacher. As the movie opens, Duvall's character, Sonny Dewey, is based in Texas, where he lives with his wife Jessie (Farrah Fawcett) and their two children, leading a fairly large, interracial congregation. Upon learning that Jessie has begun an affair with another, younger preacher (Todd Allen), Sonny attacks his rival with a baseball … More

PG-13 (For thematic elements and a related scene of violence)
Directed By:
Written By:
Robert Duvall
In Theaters:
Aug 18, 1998
New Films International


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Critic Reviews for The Apostle

All Critics (69) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (4) | DVD (2)

A labor of love coming to fruition after 13 years, this is Robert Duvall's third and best directorial effort, a sharply observed exploration of a preacher who embarks on a redemption odyssey after committing a crime.

Full Review… | February 18, 2006
Top Critic

Shocking in its unbridled, electrifying energy and raw emotion.

Full Review… | March 31, 2009

I cannot recall a movie so dominated by the performance of one actor (Robert Duvall) as this one.

Full Review… | August 13, 2007
Houston Community Newspapers

Some kind of acting miracle ... One doesn't have to be a churchgoer, or even a Christian, to be moved by the power of Duvall's great performance.

Full Review… | August 21, 2006

... may be the most unapologetic, intimate portrayal of a religious man in the history of American cinema.

Full Review… | January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

As the charismatic Sonny, Duvall brilliantly shouts the praises of Jesus.

Full Review… | July 1, 2004

There are scattered inspired moments throughout this two-and-a-half hour epic but, like many actor-directors, Duvall is so in love with his material -- and his star -- that he just can't say 'cut.'

Full Review… | July 31, 2003
Kalamazoo Gazette

Disturbing but thought-provoking depiction of genuine faith coexisting with sin and carnality… like the troubling fiction of Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Flannery O'Connor, a vindication of belief without being a vindication of every believer.

Full Review… | July 19, 2003
Decent Films Guide

Robert Duvall, writer, director, producer, and star of The Apostle, absolutely seethes with the character of Sonny Dewey (alias Apostle E.F.) in this, perhaps the best performance of his career.

Full Review… | February 8, 2003
Film Quips Online

It's a sin to miss 'The Apostle.'

Full Review… | August 2, 2002
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Nobody's perfect, but this movie's pretty darned close in its subtle telling of a Godly man from the south on his quest for conviction.

Full Review… | August 1, 2002

...introduces one of the most complex and naturalistic characters ever to appear on screen.

Full Review… | July 31, 2002
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A highly engaging drama about the fall and redemption of a Pentecostal preacher from Texas.

Full Review… | March 2, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

Oscar-winning actor Robert Duvall has directed, produced, and wrote what very well may be the most intensifying, gut-wrenching, powerful and complexed movies that has hit the big screen in ages

Full Review… | January 1, 2000

This is great performance, but alas, not a great movie.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000

Duvall's integrity and intelligence shine through his movie and his performance.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000

Earnest and often moving account of one man's struggle for redemption

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Film Journal International

Walking away from The Apostle, I felt renewed and reborn...

Full Review… | January 1, 2000

Duvall has created a work that tries to be more than entertaining, reaching to be a more artistic film.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Apostle


an interesting study on the nature of spiritual authority and moral bankruptcy. duval is amazing, and the film covers its subject matter very well. as a pastor, its interesting to see how this character study correlates with the biblical qualifications for ministers and how far away from those qualifications a person can get and still convince people to follow them.

danny d

Super Reviewer


This film was very much a personal project and great labor of love for it's writer, director, executive producer, and star Robert Duvall. Not onlt that, but it is an excellent film and a tremendous character study that is deeply moving and powerful. There are non-Pentecostal Christians (and even some atheists) who love and enjoy this film. That really says something.

The story concerns a devout and fired up southern Pentecostal preacher from Dallas named "Sonny" Dewey whose life falls apart, and he deals with it in not the best way for a man of his sort. He then leaves his old life behind and reinvents himself in the town of Bayou Boutte, Louisiana as the Apostle E F as he goes on a quest to rebuild his life and find redemption.

As a filmmaker, Duvall isn't bad. I mean, given how long he'd been in the business, it figures that he should have some sort of knowledge about the craft of filmmaking. That said though, the film is not perfect. It has a generous run time, and some of the scenes are really stretched out. What he lacks in strong narrative skills he makes up for with a brilliant performance and some terrific mise-en-scene. Even though it does run long, the dragged out scenes allow for more breathing room for the characters and themes.

Besides Duvall, the film is filled with many terrific performances from professionals and nonprofessionals alike. Beasley has a great rapport with Duvall as a fellow preacher who helps him get his new life going, and Goggins, despite maybe getting a too melodramatic towards the end, is also quite fine. Fawcett, Richardson, Thornton and Cash all deliver some important (though briefer than others) supporting parts as well. The actors all embody their characters well, and help due justice to the world being portrayed here.

I myself am a Catholic, but have a friend who is from the same world as Sonny. He has told me several times that he loves this movie, and that it gives a very accurate and fair portrayal of these types of people and believers. Having witnessed stuff like this for myself (despite my Catholicism), I can believe it. This film, though taking a side, presents these types of preachers and their congregations in a realistic, sensible, and three-dimensional manner.

The music, cinematography, all the sets, costumes, and setting are great, and this film is excellent entertainment. It has a great and powerful message, and presents some fascinating material in a way which encourages belief instead of mocking or condemning it. Definitely go out and give this a watch.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

What a beginning, and what an end! Robert Duvall doesn't hold back as the evangelical preacher. It seems like caricature at first, but he sustains the flailing, the stamping, the "Holy Ghost Power"-ing, that even this crusty atheist couldn't help but be moved at Sonny's last hurrah.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer


Financed, produced, directed and starring Oscar-winner Robert Duvall, this film is a down-home yet very grittty at times story of a disgraced preacher on the run from the police after beating his soon-to-be ex-wife's new boyfriend with a baseball bat at a baseball game. He makes it down to Louisiana and starts a new life and new church with help from a retired pastor and some locals. Eventually, though, the law catches up with him at the end. Excellent performance by Duvall - one of his best - with a pretty good commentary track included as an extra.

Derek Daniels

Super Reviewer

The Apostle Quotes

Eulis "Sonny" Dewey/The Apostle E.F.:
Holy Ghost power!
– Submitted by Jesse K (24 months ago)

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