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Thread: Movie comment--"Lourdes" (2009)

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    Distinguished Community Member agate's Avatar
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    Default Movie comment--"Lourdes" (2009)

    Before the blog is deleted, I'll post one of my movie reviews here if anyone is interested. If you've seen the movie and remember it (it's from back in 2009), your opinion would be welcome.
    LOURDES (2009)


    "Lourdes" might have been a movie promoting the idea of Lourdes as a helpful resource for those who are suffering.


    But it isn't. It gives us Lourdes, probably pretty much as it really is, but the story being told is just as important.

    The focus is on Christine, a young woman with MS who is paralyzed to the point where someone else must feed her. We see her smiling politely and being generally receptive to the Lourdes experience, even though she acknowledges at one point that she's been on lots of pilgrimages because they're her one chance to get out.

    We also see her looking longingly at an attractive young man on the staff--and being fully and sadly aware when a young woman on the staff reaches surreptitiously for the same young man's hand.

    The movie doesn't state it but the point is made: this is what she's missing, and it's a lot.

    It is, in fact, most of life. When she says she is angry because she's been singled out to have this disease while others aren't--because she can't have a normal life, the priest listening to her confession lectures her by reminding her that every life is of value, every life is unique.

    These statements can't seem very convincing, but she accepts them, just as she accepts everything else around her, including the announcement that one day's plans include a mountain-climbing expedition but that it's for the more able-bodied only--those in wheelchairs can't go. The sad unfairness of this isn't pointed out but surely anyone watching the movie would realize that a place designed for the very ill, with events planned for their stay there, ought not to set up outings that exclude some of the pilgrims.

    When one of the attendants has collapsed and been carried off on a stretcher, to hover between life and death offstage, Christine gets a chance to go on the mountain-climbing trip after all, but only because of her own miraculous recovery.

    After being anointed with the healing waters of Lourdes, she wakes up at night and finds she can walk. She can feed herself, reach for things.

    Every possible miracle has to be recorded and verified, and she is sent to a doctor there at Lourdes, who tells her that her disease has probably gone into remission because it is in the nature of the disease. However, it is faintly possible that she has had a miraculous cure.

    On that hopeful thought, the group photo that was just taken with her in her wheelchair is retaken with her standing.

    However, though she walks, her gait isn't so very steady, and then she falls down on the dance floor.

    A possible budding romance between the attractive employee and Christine is already showing signs of decay as we see him subtly backing away, as if he has been happy about her recovery and willing to play along with her enthusiasms briefly, but that will be as far as it goes.

    A woman has been standing by with Christine's empty wheelchair all the while though Christine insists she doesn't need it. After the fall on the dance floor, though, we see that she has returned to it. Yes, she can walk--but she is accepting the limitations imposed by her multiple sclerosis.

    What is especially wonderful about this movie, and I can't praise it highly enough, is that it clearly shows what it is about MS that is often hard for people to understand--how someone who "can" still walk might need a wheelchair anyway.

    What matters in the story is that Christine is coming to terms with her disease. She has found out that there may be times when she won't be as disabled as she was at first. It may not be a miraculous cure but for her it's a vast improvement.

    She seems to harbor no illusions about being "special" even if many of the Lourdes pilgrims prefer to view her remission as a sign of God's grace.

    Here and there in the movie there are signs of a deep cynicism about Lourdes even among the clergy who have an important part in the operation of its activities. But the note of cynicism is sounded very, very softly as the movie shows Lourdes as a place visited by so many pilgrims that their time is organized by a vast staff of attendants, a place where very desperate people come with their faith and hope.

    The movie is in French with English subtitles. Sylvie Testud is superb as Christine. She has an attractive face and manner and a radiant smile. She doesn't seem to be an especially pious pilgrim. She's clearly a believing Catholic who is eager to try anything that might help. She has no aspirations to prominence as someone touched by St. Bernadette in any special way. She wants to get on with a normal life.

    We come away fearing that her life may not be as normal as she'd like but hoping that at least she'll have more of a life than she was having at the start of the film.

    There is a brief but telling exchange toward the end of the film between one of the more disabled pilgrims and a Lourdes staff member:

    Pilgrim (alluding to the fact that this day is the last day of the pilgrimage): But tomorrow I'll be alone again.

    Lourdes staff member: We are not alone.

    Pilgrim: We are.
    MS, diagnosed 1980. Avonex 2001-2004. Copaxone 2006-2009.

    "Always put off until tomorrow whatever you think you should do today." --Anonymous



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    Agate, thanks for the review of this movie. Had considered watching it but was afraid it would be depressing. Will reconsider.

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    I had never heard of this film and will recommend to a friend who loves French movies.
    Mild Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy and bad proprioception.
    My website for my original short films! http://cripvideoproductions.com/astrokeofendurance.php

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    Distinguished Community Member agate's Avatar
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    I've heard that the pilgrims shown in the movie are actual pilgrims at Lourdes, not just actors.

    You can see a trailer of the movie here. There are also user reviews. Some people disliked the movie, others praised it.

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1405809/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_3
    MS, diagnosed 1980. Avonex 2001-2004. Copaxone 2006-2009.

    "Always put off until tomorrow whatever you think you should do today." --Anonymous



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