1997; Rated PG-13; 148 Minutes
Robert Duvall: Sonny Dewey - Apostle E.F.
Farrah Fawcett: Jessie Dewey
Miranda Richardson: Tootsie
Todd Allen: Horace
John Beasley: Brother Blackwell
June Carter Cash: Mrs. Dewey Sr.
Walt Goggins: Sam
Billy Joe Sharver: Joe
Billy Bob Thornton: The Troublemaker
Produced by Steven
Brown, Rob Carliner, Robert Duvall and Ed Johnson; Directed
and screenwritten by Robert Duvall
by DAVID KEYES
movies can take us to big cities. Not many can take us to
precise locations and tell stories of precise people without
enveloping them in typical plot routines.
Apostle," a film which Robert Duvall produced, wrote, directed
and starred in, takes us to the deep south and into the
life of Sonny Dewey in such a unique way that it's frightening.
Sonny belongs to the church, works like the church, thinks
like the church, and almost IS the church. His life is far
from normal--it is one of the most original ever seen; a
complex one built up of more than flesh and bone; an intense
portrait of one who takes god into his heart and never lets
him go; a glorious and complicated weave of human and spiritual
emotions that transgress themselves in the tense moments
of a human's lifetime. When he has problems, he goes to
god, talks to him, and sometimes even screams at him. One
wouldn't consider this a normal action, but for a preacher
in the deep south, I wouldn't be so naive to think that
this is unusual.
it--the south knows more about religion, god, and all of
its aspects probably more than anybody else nowadays. They
appreciate every word written in the Bible and still consider
it to be the supreme law of the land. The Bible was once
the pinnacle of every human's beliefs, and the idol of everyone's
knowledge. Few today have claimed it as the law of the land,
since government and politics have named the earth a "land
in need of human rule," as a friend of mine once put it.
But if you look at the core, and into those who still take
the Bible as their law of the land, you would find that
most probably come from the south. Why? Perhaps its because
in the south, where racism, sacrilege, and anarchy still
mainly exists, God is the logical choice for everyone.
are thoughts that must be dealt with at "The Apostle," because
every character, every person alive, takes in god as their
number one source of life. The movie opens in 1939, which,
coincidentally, was the year for movie masterpieces. The
story takes place when Dewey, attending church outdoors
in a tent, gives his soul and his honor to god after listening
to the preaching of a sermon who rants and raves about hell
and fire. This scene evokes passion and creativity in the
character we meet, providing glimpses that one day, he,
too, will belong to the church.
next scene takes us to the present day, where Dewey is now
a member of the church. He has a wife, two kids, an ill
mother, and blindness to everyone except Jesus. All of his
time and assets are devoted to his lord--it's almost as
if that's all he cares about. His wife soon begins to break
away from him, leaning towards a young preacher named Horace.
His mother, in an early scene, collapses to the floor in
a stroke, and instead of helping her, he places a blanket
on her, tells her god will take care of her, and departs.
then it gets worse. Sonny is then confronted with the possibility
of losing his license to preach at the church. For some
reason, people want him out of there, claiming that he doesn't
have what it takes. At this point, Sonny, instead of handling
the situation, goes to his room and rants and raves to the
lord. His mother gets a phone call asking what is going
on up in his room, and she replies "Sometimes he talks to
the lord, and sometimes he yells at him."
problems in his life persist until he takes them into his
own hands, one time using a baseball bat to crush the skull
of his wife's lover, then, believing that the devil has
entered his heart, rushes out of town, faking suicide, and
ready to start a new life. In a lake, he baptizes himself
reborn as "Apostle E.F." and finds home in a town in Louisiana.
There, the movie's script focuses on his attempts to win
over the suspicious people of the town so that he, once
and for all, can create a church of his own there, seeking
redemption from his lord, which he feels he has dishonored
by killing another. For those who have not seen the movie
just yet, it is better to leave the rest of the picture's
plot hidden here, as, in a way, the movie represents a creativity
and passion that should not be spoiled for any movie fanatic.
away from "The Apostle," I felt renewed.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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