Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Lourdes: Why?

Over several weeks we have been forced to sit through the absolutely ridiculous film known as Lourdes. I'm sure you can tell just from the tone of that first sentence how this review is going to go...

This French film follows a woman suffering from severe multiple sclerosis searching for a miracle that will cure her of her delibitating condition, and the effects on the people around her when it supposedly happens.

That all sounds fine, on paper. Dull, but acceptable. Not on film. At 96 minutes, it's relatively short as far as films go. but it felt mind-numbingly long. They could have quite easily have cut about 25 minutes of footage where the main character merely stares ahead, and nothing else happens. There are long periods of the film where literally nothing happens, and we are just watching characters sitting around waiting for something. There are chunks of the film where there isn't even any annoying French dialogue, which would have at least given us subtitles to read.

From what I gathered, they tried to put a little of everything in there: we have comedy, with the morally-corrupt volunteer girls working there, sleeping their way around the married men; romance, where some random man that the main character knows from previous pilgrimages (though he doesn't remember her, clearly, in another unintentionally funny moment) suddenly takes an interest in her when she can walk again.

There's also the religious aspect of it. Yes, there was obviously going to be lots in there, but I really don't appreciate having the Catholic faith shoved down my throat. Watching the film made it seem even more like a cult than it already is. It just seemed ridiculous throughout, and the film actually didn't present it in a very good light, making it seem as though they had no idea what they were talking about (the answer to most questions raised by the pilgrims seemed to be "God works in mysterious ways" - not a real answer!).

To be honest, I laughed through most of the film - if I hadn't, I'd have cried at the appalling film-making. There was never an explanation given for the mute old woman who was just randomly there all the time, and that just made her appearances even more hilarious, as she turned up at the most inopportune moments (she follows the would-be couple up a mountain for some reason as they're about to get it on) or wheeled the main character around with no explanation given. The slag volunteer provided endless entertainment, though she was incredibly irritating, especially towards the end with her attempt at singing.

The ending was incredibly annoying - the main character falls over while dancing and then everyone questions whether she is actually the recipient of a miracle, or if it was brief respite from her condition. Then she sits down, is filmed for another five minutes doing nothing but watching the rest of the people at the function dancing, and then it ends. I am not a fan of ambiguous endings usually - I like to be told what's happened, otherwise it's not fully satisfying. But this was particularly bad, because it wasn't even that ambiguous. So she tripped over and then sat down - that is cause for people to gossip over her condition? I didn't understand. And her new man ran off like a shot as soon as she fell, not to be seen again. That was funny. But other than that, awful.

All in all, I don't really understand how this won any critical acclaim, even if it was just in France. It even won the Vienna Film Festival's Best Film prize! They can be sure that I will never be attending that festival if that's the best film there.

Verdict: Basically, don't waste your time. It takes more effort to read the film and understand it than it's worth, and essentially I feel like it's taken away about 30 hours I will never get back.


1 comment:

  1. This film.
    An entire massive cliche based on ignorant stereotypes of Lourdes as a place where ill people come to just glare at a shrine - in silence.
    It really annoys me how such a beautiful enjoyable exciting place can be condemed so.
    Maybe its just when it was set? Times have changed I admit - but where was the spirituality? Where was the happiness? Even then, it wasn't just all the vounteers having a giddy-up whilst the pigrims watched!
    I don't know what made me more upset? The womans condition, which was a pretty upsetting portrayal - I really did feel for her... or just LOURDES.

    If I saw that film before I went I don't even think I would have gone. An abysmal portrayal of a simply beautiful place.

    Candles-up to M&S for another epic review!