In THE APPARITION – L’APPARITION Director Xavier Giannoli shows how an investigative journalist investigates whether a miracle has occurred in southeastern France. We’ll reveal in our review whether this makes for an exciting drama.
The Plot Summary
The investigative journalist Jacques Mayano (Vincent Lindon) has not yet come to terms with the fact that he recently saw the ultimate horror while working as a war reporter when the Vatican unexpectedly contacts him. At first the Papal States act very mysteriously, only pointing out that they have a task for them. When he arrives at the Vatican, Jacques learns that a Vatican committee is currently dealing with the following case: 18-year-old Anna (Galatea Bellugi) from a small village in southeastern France claims that the Virgin Mary appeared to her and is milking the local community this already. People make pilgrimages there, buy devotional items and venerate Anna like a saint. The Vatican committee now wants to investigate whether Anna really experienced a miracle or whether she is lying. Jacques has had little interest in religion so far – but that’s precisely why the Vatican wants him to be part of an investigative commission. When he arrives on site, he is overwhelmed by the religious hype surrounding Anna and gets to know the young woman as a sensitive and deeply religious soul. Little by little, Jacques discovers the truth and therefore has to fight with his convictions…
Movie explanation of the ending
The multi-award-winning director and author Xavier Giannoli is known, among other things, for the con artist drama “The Savior,” which is based on true events, and the historical and musical film “Madame Marguerite or the Art of Wrong Tones.” His latest work, “The Apparition,” has so far caused surprisingly little stir in the circles that otherwise value Giannoli’s work so much. The basic idea is as exciting as it is stimulating: an unbelieving journalist is asked by the Vatican to investigate whether a supposed Marian apparition actually happened. Giannoli has very little interest in the thriller approach of the thematically related exorcism legal drama “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, but approaches this material from the perspective of a quiet character drama. Giannoli embellishes the 137-minute development of his protagonist from a traumatized, closed man who goes through the world with blinders on to a more active, changed man (of course we won’t reveal here what exactly becomes of Jacques Mayano, after all, that’s the driving question Films, whether he finds faith or takes faith away from others) with marginal observations on the subject of church. The auteur filmmaker has meticulously researched the topic of Catholic investigative commissions that critically examine alleged miracles and constantly weaves his findings into the course of the plot.
The experts discuss how to deal with the alleged appearance.
For example, when journalist Jacques Mayano learns in the quietly staged, leisurely narrated film that the Catholic Church continues to employ exorcists, this may cause a brief smile, as this idea, which is absurd for many modern people, contradicts the level-headed tone of “The Apparition”. But it is also one of many incidentally conveyed pieces of information about the church about which one can make one’s own judgment during Giannoli’s small-scale drama. Above all, the approach and intention of the committee that Jacques joins is of interest. So it is more important to the committee to make sure that Anna is a good, faithful believer than to determine whether she is mentally healthy. While “The Apparition” leaves its audience to make their own judgments in various situations, there are numerous aspects in which Giannoli suggests a critical evaluation. In an incidental dialogue, Jacques learns that there are places of pilgrimage that the church tolerates, even though it is not convinced of the authenticity of the miracles that allegedly occurred there. The explanation shines through between the lines: They’re good for business, so why tell the world that even the church doesn’t believe in these miracles?
This theme is more clearly expressed in the French provincial village where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to the young Anna: masses of St. Anne’s memorial products are sold, hordes of Christians wander through the provinces singing her songs, as do other religious groups in Western Europe would never be allowed without an outcry, and the priest Anton Meyer (entertaining and greasy: Anatole Taubman, “The Pillars of the Earth”) doesn’t waste a minute exploiting Anna and her miracle medially or financially. This contrasts with other marginal notes in which the church’s charitable activities are discussed. However, Giannoli’s confrontation with the dichotomy of the Catholic Church, between greed and humanity, between self-expression and selflessness, always remains a marginal phenomenon in “The Apparition”. The narrative focus belongs to Jacques Mayano – and that is the film’s biggest stumbling block. The journalist, played stoically by “The Value of Man” mime Vincent Lindon, is a very thinly sketched protagonist whose personality remains vague throughout. This makes for all sorts of slow passages in this drama, and because of this script basis, Lindon only knows how to get something out of his role when it gets entangled in longer conversations and the actor can react to his counterpart.
Jacques Mayano (Vincent Lindon) reaches his limits during the investigation.
Galatea Bellugi plays a much more memorable role (“Shipwreck with Crazy Hope”) on: The young actress impresses with a touching performance that thrives solely on subtle mannerisms; Just the way she holds her head suggests how she feels in each scene, being the center of this media and religious turmoil. However, the fact that the drama, which is told in six chapters, takes on a bumpy narrative rhythm in the second third, reinforced by the increasingly diffuse editing, slows down any tension that slowly builds up. And then there is the ever so annoying conclusion: in the final 20 minutes of the film, Giannolis abandons the previous subtlety and tries to provide concrete answers (within the film world) using Dan Brown-style plot twists that both contradict the tone of the film also Giannoli’s previously sober chain of arguments. The fact that Jacques’ character development towards the end suddenly approaches the end point of the story without Lindon being able to play this change in his role credibly intensifies the disappointing overall impression of this drama revolving around the journalist.
Conclusion: The drama “The Apparition – L’Apparition”, which ruminates on the church and faith, offers some food for thought as well as a strong performance by Galatea Bellugi. But the loose characterization of the protagonist, a bumpy narrative and a pathetic ending slow this film down enormously.
“The Apparition” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from December 13, 2018.