Lourdes, Jessica Hausner, Austria, 2009, 96’, OV with Basque subtitles
The masters of Austrian film (Michael Haneke and Ulrich Seidl) have gotten us used to their critical analyses of the guises and miseries hidden behind the shop front of the ‘wellbeing society’. They’ve warned us time and again that nothing is what it seems. Everything may be much darker, their movies seem to cry out. Director Jessica Hausner wastes no time in her analysis and presents a fable in which something that could be considered a miracle reveals the true nature of the human being.
Young Christine suffers from MS and has spent almost her entire life exhausted in a wheelchair. To escape her isolation, she joins a group of pilgrims — nurses, volunteers and priests — travelling to Lourdes in search of solace, support, and even a miracle.
Jessica Hausner rigorously documents their expressions, attitudes, fears and hopes, and reveals what lies beyond the images: what happens behind the picture of generosity, patience, waiting, misfortune and hope. Moreover, she poses the all-defining question: What would happen if Christine woke up one day and was cured of her illness?
The film won the FIPRESCI critics award at Venice in 2009 as well as best film in Seville and best actress (Sylvie Testud) at the European Film Awards in 2010.