The Apparition (2018) ***

July 25th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Xavier Giannoli; Cast: Vincent Lindon, Galatea Bellugi, Patrick d’Assumcao, Anatole Taubman; France 2018, 144 min.

In his follow-up to Marguerite, Xavier Giannoli again bites off rather more than he can chew: The Apparition is a mixture of Dan Brown and the eternal question of God’s existence, played out against a backdrop of European cities and war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Pretentiously divided into chapters, it stars Vincent Lindon as traumatised war reporter Jacques who develops hearing difficulties and loses his best friend, a photographer, during an assignment somewhere in the Middle East.

On his return to Paris, Jacques is asked to investigate an apparition in the Carbarat region of France where 18-year old Anna (Bellugi) claims to have seen the Virgin Mary. The sighting has given rise to a cult and Jacques decides to form a committee to question Anna, who has lived most of her life in foster families. Father Borrodine (d’ Assumacao) seems to profit most from the cult, which is commercially exploited by Anton (Taubman), a Christian version of an advertising guru. 

Suddenly the narrative changes course radically, Jacques morphing into a sleuth to find out more about Anna’s past and unearthing a murder and letters to her from a refugee camp in Africa. The icon discovered by his dead friend makes a reappearance. Although the mystery surrounding the apparition seems to have been cleared up, Anna is nevertheless in danger, having discovered too much. Sadly, the audience is still in the dark with too many questions unanswered, and even the overgenerous running time does not allow for the plot-lines to gel.

DoP Eric Gautier’s widescreen shots would do any travel advert proud, but like the script, everything feels rather formulaic. Arvi Part (one of four composers) gives this hybrid travelogue just the right blend of quasi-religious background music for the decent but sprawling religious crime drama. AS


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