Lourdes (U)

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The Independent Culture

Though set entirely within the iconic site of Catholic pilgrimage, Jessica Hausner's unsettling drama refuses to take sides on the meaning – or even the existence – of miracles.

Sylvie Testud plays Christine, wheelchair-bound from MS and visiting Lourdes in no apparent hope of being "cured" – her faith isn't especially strong, and she notes a general air of scepticism around the reliability of healing in any case. Yet when the unimaginable does happen – Ave Maria! – it divides the other pilgrims between righteousness ("God has not forsaken us") and resentment ("She doesn't seem very pious, our miracle girl"), observed by Hausner's camera in a spirit of beady neutrality. The remarkable coup of her film is that it can be taken either as a testament to the power of faith or as a subtle undermining of it: the ambiguity of viewpoint is beautifully modulated.