Mark Reviews Movies

The Apparition (2018)

THE APPARITION (2018)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Xavier Giannoli

Cast: Vincent Lindon, Galatéa Bellugi, Patrick d'Assumçao, Anatole Taubman, Elina Löwensohn, Claude Lévèque, Gérard Dessalles, Bruno Georis

MPAA Rating: Not rated

Running Time: 2:24

Release Date: 9/7/18 (limited)


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Review by Mark Dujsik | September 6, 2018

After a young woman claims to have been visited by the Virgin Mary, the Vatican assembles an inquiry to determine the authenticity of the alleged vision. Writer/director Xavier Giannoli's The Apparition is about faith and, more specifically, questioning it. It's set up as a mystery, in which a skeptical journalist investigates the claims of the young woman, a novitiate at a local abbey in a small village in France, so the possible answers are just as important as the questions.

At least, in theory, that's how such things work. Giannoli, though, is so concerned with the central question that he mostly ignores how the mystery and its potential solutions affect these characters. The screenplay is primarily putting together the pieces of this puzzle. Everything we learn about Jacques (Vincent Lindon), the journalist, and Anna (Galatéa Bellugi), the aspiring nun, is funneled through the investigation, so whatever we're meant to learn about them has to wait until the ultimate answer is revealed.

In the meantime, there is some intriguing material upon which the movie touches, but its touch is merely a slight brush. Anna has developed a following that spans the globe. Her face adorns various souvenirs, and the local priest (played by Patrick d'Assumçao) is quite happy that his church is getting the additional attention and income. There's a business side to faith here that forces us to consider the priest's motives, although, within the plot, he's primarily a barrier for Jacques and his team of investigators to get any straight answers.

Jacques, meanwhile, has a tragic past, involving the recent death of his professional partner in a war zone. He's not a believer, and after everything that he has seen in his work, he has no intention of becoming one. Such broad strokes are all that we get from these characters, although the performances—especially Lindon's ability to show constant inquisitiveness and Bellugi's combination of fragility and devotion—are solid.

Too much of this feels as if Giannoli is circling around the same points over and over again—Jacques' skepticism, Anna's apparent dedication, the revelation of exposition that keeps things uncertain. The Apparition, then, is a long waiting game. We have to possess faith that the answers will come, but the movie doesn't engender such trust.

Copyright © 2018 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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