Sunday, September 12, 2010

viff 2010 | of gods and men

France, Xavier Beauvois, 120 min.
A French brotherhood stationed in a deseret mountain monastery in Algeria holds off Islamic fundamentalists with the strength of its faith. Based on a true story, Xavier Beauvois’ classical drama stars Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale, and is close to perfection. Winner, Grand Prix, Cannes 2010.

The thematic area of international terrorism, while deeply mined, is given close and thoughtful attention in Xavier Beavois gravely beautiful drama. Of Gods and Men is based on the 1996 Tibhirine attack, in which an order of Cicstercian monks confront Islamic fundamentalists with only the strength of their faith. Against the majesty of Algeria's Atlas Mountains, the quotidian activity of the monks (gardening, dispensing medical help to the locals, and religious observances) proceed with humble grace. Even as the mounting threat of terrorist violence looms, the brotherhood maintain their mission.

"In this year's winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, director Xavier Beauvois recounts the harrowing true story of a brotherhood of French monks in the highlands of North Africa who find themselves threatened by Islamic extremists during the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s. Starring a gifted ensemble cast led by the empathetic Lambert Wilson (as resident religious scholar Brother Christian), the film begins as a bucolic chronicle of these simple men of God and their gentle relationship with their Muslim neighbors, to whom they provide much-needed medical care and other services. When the insurgents arrive, they find themselves faced with an impossible decision: to flee, or to stand their ground and fulfill their spiritual mission. Magnificently photographed by cinematographer Caroline Champetier in compositions that suggest Renaissance paintings, Of Gods and Men is a poetic, austerely beautiful triumph." - Film Comment

"It is the most intensely passionate film at Cannes so far this year, and the fact that the passion is religious makes it no less moving. The early-morning audience wept yesterday in Of Gods and Men, Xavier Beauvois’s picture of the monks of the Atlas Mountains in Algeria, a beautifully told story of bravery and extraordinary understanding." Kate Muir, The Times

Sun, Oct 10th 9:15pm | Granville 7
Tue, Oct 12th 4:00pm | Granville 7
Wed, Oct 13th 3:30pm | Park

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