Critic Consensus: As bewitchingly ambiguous as it is beautifully shot, Lourdes explores profound themes with subtlety and a deft comic touch -- and a marvelous performance from its star, Sylvie Testud.
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as Mrs. Hartl
as Father Nigl
as Mrs. Huber
as Mrs. Spor
as Jean-Pierre Bely
as Mr. Hruby
as Mr. Oliveti
as Mr. Oliveti
as Mrs. Oliveti
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Critic Reviews for Lourdes
In a film rich with provocative questions, Hausner audaciously examines the ambivalent nature of miracles. Are they gifts from a loving God or random occurrences, bereft of any moral or meaning?
A provocative and surprising pleasure that may persuade even the most hardened rationalists to reconsider what religion means as a sanctity to those who have few other choices in life.
Beautifully led by birdlike Sylvie Testud as an ailing young woman in a wheelchair, every character (pilgrim and helper alike) exhibits a soul. And shaped with confident talent by the Austrian filmmaker, every serenely composed shot matters.
[Jessica Hausner's] thought experiment is an emotionally potent one.
Audience Reviews for Lourdes
I saw this at the Cleveland International Film Fest. It reminded me a bit of Fellini's Nights of Cabiria especially with its presentation of Catholic rituals.
Sylvie Testud does a wonderful job in portraying Christine as a real person with real depth. But there is a great cast of characters surrounding her. I found that the movie is really about how the whole group of pilgrims seeking healing and the red cross helpers react to Christine and the miracle promising site of Lourdes. The movie is slowly paced. Sometimes the camera lingering over the landscape or faces that are still and quiet seems a bit much. But when it lingers on the religious ceremonies and holy places it reveals the repetition and sometimes meaninglessness of these old traditions. People put so much hope in them anyways. I think that this movie was made in a way though that will let believers continue to believe and non-believers continue to doubt. It is ambiguous. I liked some of the advice the head priest and the head lady of the red cross gave a couple times though I disagreed with their assuming that all miracles and personal changes are a result of faith in God, Jesus, or Mother Mary. I liked hearing the doctors' scientific explanation for the roller coaster ebbing and flowing of multiple sclerosis symptoms. I liked the questions the two single middle aged ladies asked throughout as they try to make sense of it all.
"Lourdes" is a disarming rumination on the nature of faith that maintains a documentaty like distance in observing a group of pilgrims at Lourdes, starting with them arriving for a meal. Their leader Cecile(Elina Lowensohn) informs that since they have had such a long journey that day, they will wait until tomorrow to move onto the grotto and that a prize will be awarded to whoever is the best pilgrim. Actually preferring the cultural sites, Christine(Sylvie Testud) is paralyzed by multiple sclerosis and needs help even to eat and get into bed and feels life is passing her by. These tours are the only way for her to get out of the house.
Lourdes is renowned for its miracles but there is a great deal of skepticism given to any reported. Why some people, and not others? The official line is hedging its bets, wanting to cure the soul, not the body.(Whether they enjoy the idea of the sick suffering is a matter for debate.) On the one hand, the city needs the idea of miracles to drive the tourist business and sell souvenirs. On the other, what would happen if everybody were cured, since there is such a large industry formed around the caretakers?
A beautifully subtle lead performance from Sylvie Testud truly gifts this unusual and enigmatic film that can be read a multitude of ways (undoubtedly depending on the viewers own spirituality and/or religious beliefs), even to the point where it becomes unclassifiable (drama, black comedy, satire).
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