The glutinous rendition of Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ that kicks off Lourdes makes you wonder – are we in for mocking satire or pious uplift? Neither, as it turns out.
Austrianborn director Jessica Hausner’s Venice-winner subjects the much-visited French shrine to the Virgin Mary to a non-committal, almost documentary scrutiny – though one that’s not without its moments of sly humour.
Christine (a fierce, frail performance from Sylvie Testud) is a wheelchair-bound sufferer from multiple sclerosis who visits Lourdes less out of faith than by way of a fresh holiday destination. (She decides she prefers Rome, as it’s “more cultural”.)
Hausner subtly sketches in the characters involved – the pilgrims, the carers, the bemused but conscientious resident priest – and the tensions and jealousies that thrive in Lourdes’ hothouse atmosphere, without ever showing her hand.
Disneyland for the credulous, or miracle-working shrine? We’re left to make up our own minds on that one.
Log in using Facebook to share comments, games, status update and other activity easily with your Facebook feed.