Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1999. American Zoetrope, Franchise Pictures, Haft Entertainment. Screenplay by John Romano, Richard Vetere, based on the novel by Richard Vetere. Cinematography by Jerzy Zielinski. Produced by Rudolf Biermann, Fred Fuchs, Steven Haft, Elie Samaha. Music by Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. Production Design by Robert de Vico. Costume Design by Denise Cronenberg. Film Editing by David Siegel.
Agnieszka Holland’s tale is of a jaded priest (Ed Harris) looking into the so-called miracles performed by a now-deceased cleaning lady (Barbara Sukowa) to see if she qualifies for sainthood, and his relationship with her agnostic daughter (Anne Heche). It is a powerful examination of faith, organized religion and the power we all have inside of us to make the forces we believe in so strong because of our faith in them. Harris couldn’t be better as a man who feels torn down by a previously bad incident, exposing a fraud in a miracle case and taking away the seemingly unflappable faith of an entire community, that he flat out refuses to take the next assignment from fear of hating himself any more. Giving him ample support and challenge is Heche’s determined and brilliant performance as a woman who simply refuses to believe that the woman who chose her church over her duties to her own daughter could possibly be considered a saint. Add to that a hammy performance by Armin Mueller-Stahl that is so annoying and yet so appropriate, and you have one of the most polished dramas of the year. Very well worth watching.
Toronto International Film Festival: 1999