Austria/France/Germany, 2009, 96 minutes
Sun, May 02 / 4:00 / Kabuki / LOUR02K
Thu, May 06 / 8:30 / Clay / LOUR06Y
A disturbing film about the power of faith and the possibility of miracles, Lourdes can be interpreted as both a critique of religion and a story of redemption. At its center is Christine (the excellent Sylvie Testud), confined to a wheelchair by an incurable paralytic disease. Lonely and isolated, she longs to be normal again, to do what others can in a carefree manner, but she requires assistance to eat, dress and bathe. Although perhaps not as pious as some, Christine joins a pilgrimage to the fabled Catholic shrine at Lourdes organized by the Order of Malta, a religious organization that assists the elderly, the handicapped and those with terminal illnesses. Some of the pilgrims in her group are seeking a physical cure, while others hope to find spiritual comfort. Christine is assigned to Maria, a young volunteer of the Order of Malta. She accompanies Christine to the baths and on procession, feeds her, washes her and helps her to bed. Christine observes Maria’s world with a hint of envy, seeing in her a reflection of her own past. Maria, however, prefers to associate with people her own age, often leaving Christine in the company of Madame Hartl, a severe older woman who makes it her mission to care and pray for Christine. Will human kindness or divine intervention help Christine leave her wheelchairs behind? Radiating intelligence with every frame, writer/director Jessica Hausner depicts the proceedings with her characteristic cool, treading a fine line between tragedy and satire.