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APOSTLE, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Euliss ‘Sonny’ Dewey (Robert Duvall), is a popular, colourful Pentecostal preacher from Texas, whose wife Jessie (Farrah Fawcett) has fallen in love with a younger minister, Horace (Todd Allen). Fed up with Sonny’s long absences and philandering, Jessie manipulates church by-laws and manages to wrest control of the church. Facing the loss of his wife, children and congregation, Sonny is overtaken by rage and strikes Horace in the head with a baseball bat at their son’s Little League game. Realising he has gone too far, he flees town, shedding all traces of the past, boards a bus for Louisiana, and adopts a new identity - The Apostle. He lands in Bayou Boutte, where he recruits retired preacher Charlie Balckwell (John Beasley) to open up a new church. But his past is always there, threatening to engulf him.

"Other than the sensational characterisation of Sonny, Robert Duvall gives us little more than hot air in this picturesque but thin story. His portrait of an evangelist burning with the fire of Jesus in his belly, his mind, his throat, is mesmerising – but to no avail. It’s as if Duvall the actor became the demon that drove Duvall the writer and director, to create a vehicle just perfect for himself. We see nothing of his marriage relationship - we are told about it’s problems. We see nothing of his wife distancing herself, and we see nothing of his philandering that is spoken of as the very cause of their split. We do get to see a vaguely mystical scene in which he perhaps resuscitates a dying couple in a car crash, and we see muddled glimpses of him with his mother – whose death is handled most unsatisfactorily. And, brothers and sisters, we do get to see a mighty lot of the Apostle in action, rousing, singing, clapping and jumping for joy. Too much, actually. Then there is the pathetic device that delivers Sonny to justice. But there are other flaws, niggling and not so niggling, which render the film a lame duck. Pity; I wanted to like it more."
Andrew L. Urban

"A great showcase for Robert Duvall, The Apostle is a well made, passionately told tale of obsession and fanaticism that ultimately doesn’t go the distance. Duvall gives an extraordinary performance as the preacher whose faith is a way of life, capturing the essence of a complex, driven man with all the warning signs of instability and underlying violence. While his characterisation is complete, and the plot well established, the story line seems to go round and round in a loop, hammering its point too many times and with a sledge hammer. Duvall’s direction is passionate and I agree with Andrew that perhaps Duvall was so driven by his own personal involvement, that issues relating to relationship, crucial to the overall understanding of the character, are neglected. Beautifully shot in splendid locations, Billy Bob Thornton adds class with a cameo role, but Farrah Fawcett and Miranda Richardson both seem self conscious here: the many memorable performances come from the black Americans, whose sense of passion and rhythm is unrivalled. I hoped to like The Apostle much more than I did: unfortunately I found it overly repetitive and much too long."
Louise Keller

"Robert Duvall tried to get this film off the ground for almost 2 decades with little success and one can understand why. Here is a film with some interesting issues, dealing with the natures of faith, manipulation and theatricality, but Duvall has merely encased these issues into a self- flagellating ego trip. There's far too much praying and blustering, and not enough character development. Duvall spends so much time creating a character for himself to immerse in, that everyone else has been left on the sidelines. Sure, Duvall is a commanding presence on screen, and he gives a meticulously realised performance as the spiritually incongruous preacher man, but the character lacks direction, much like the film. Duvall uses the medium as a means of his own self-expression, but forgets there's an audience out there with the need for some emotional connection, and there's little of that. Ironically, a film that explores a man's spiritual growth, is spiritually hollow. The film looks good, and Duvall has a sense of cinema, but the movie is overlong and aimless. The Apostle would have been a far better film underthe direction of a director."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 3
Mixed: 0
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See Andrew L. Urban's interview in Cannes with
ROBERT DUVALL

APOSTLE, THE (PG)
(US)

CAST: Robert Duvall, Farrah Fawcett, Miranda Richardson, Todd Allen, John Beasley, June Carter Cash, Walton Goggins, Billy Joe Shaver, Billy Bob Thornton, Rick Dial

DIRECTOR: Robert Duvall

PRODUCER: Rob Carliner

SCRIPT: Robert Duvall

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Markowitz

EDITOR: Steve Mack

MUSIC: David Mansfield

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Linda Burton

RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 2, 1998






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