The Pilgrim's Process (or the business of miracles, more cynically) is blankly observed in this dour study of retractable pieties and commutable devotions. Whilst not anti-clerical (the blank gaze stops short of that), the depiction of the sterile, joyless conduct is rather merciless with the locked camera offering an integrity of surveillance if not reverence for its subject (whether apparent miracle or placebo).
Une oeuvre étonnante, miraculeusement en équilibre entre positive distanciation critique face à la religion et ses croyances surnaturelles et grinçante mise en évidence des indigences de la nature humaine, où se côtoient dans une même bénédiction, envieuse jalousie, grossière indifférence et lourde mesquinerie, sous la permanente présence, insultante et obscène, de quelques grossiers bien-portants.www.cinefiches.com
Like a less misanthropic sister to Seidl's 'Faith', but perhaps no less cynical, this film depicts the commodification of faith into a state where showbags are the product of your worship. Ascetically realised, what I enjoyed most was the depiction of charity as condescension used to garner self-worth. Perfectly encapsulates a world of people speaking platitudes when all you want is meaning.
It's like meeting real people in need of miracles. I find myself judging its characters faith like a true moron in society, and that's quite a reaction for watching something of fiction. Its realism makes me smile, laugh, and shrug. I like how the director carefully balanced realism and religion. It gives you room for your own interpretations. Then there is Léa Seydoux, singing to "Felicita" — so funny and precious!
For me, this is a near to perfect as you get. Composition, framing and editing are stunnning; characterisations are rounded, and achieved with such economy of writing as well as beautifully understated depth of performance; subject matter is both gently funny and lightly mocking, but never sneering - always with great empathy and understanding for the characters.
Fantastic picture from director Jessica Hausner that houses a clever examination of faith, the perception of miracle and the human qualities of jealousy, want and avarice. Testud gives a miracle of a performance here especially her closing scene which is affecting as anything put on celluloid in recent years. Depending on one's own concept of faith this film can have many interpretations and meanings. A must.
Austerity may be the greatest quality in Jessica's Hausner third film. Despite its ambitious mise-en-scene, Hausner manages to keep a fair balance in her narrative. The ambiguous and the suspenseful remains two of her greatest strenghts, used with the same good hand which made Hotel quite an interesting film. Just looking forward to what her potential can achieve in the future.