Sony Classics presents Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods And Men, Winner Grand Prix of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and France’s official selection for the 83rd Academy Awards. Loosely based on the lives and 1996 kidnapping of the Cistercian monks of Tibhirine, the picture stars Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale, and is currently showing in select cities nationwide.
Check out the review below…
- Director: Xavier Beauvois
- Writer: Etienne Comar
- DP: Caroline Champeteir
- Cast: Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin, Philippe Laudenbach
The story chronicles eight French/Christian monks whose monastery is located in a Muslim community in North Africa. After a crew of local workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, the monks are offered military protection – which they refuse. After terrorist groups issue an ultimatum ordering all foreigners to leave the country, the monks are faced with a dilemma: to abandon or not to abandon the village they’ve so deeply committed to in hopes of preserving their lives.
- Simplicity: Minimalism was underscored from all angles of this picture from simple frames, to brief dialogue, to painfully mundane character interactions. This reemphasized the simplicity of the monastic lifestyle, which was a reasonable choice on the part of the filmmakers, but unfortunately not an engaging one.
- Pacing: The first forty minutes of the picture are monotonous beyond words. Watch the monks chant. Watch the monks garden. Watch the monks interact with random villagers. Watch the monks chant, again! And so on and so forth. Again, the choice is a reasonable one. Highlighting the provincial, borderline dull way of life surrounding this community makes the impact of the Muslim disruption very powerful. But, by the time the story’s pinnacle rolls around the audience has been asleep for at least fifteen minutes.
- Message: Thematically, the picture aims to move. The threat of death doesn’t shake the monks’ commitment to charity and the spirit of peace.
- Performances: Very strong performances across the boards, specifically from Lambert Wilson who plays the head honcho of the bunch.
The story itself is certainly poignant, but the execution is majorly disappointing. We’re talking stage 5 snooze cruise.
The film is playing in select cities nationwide!