English Title: Of Gods and Men
Original Title: Des hommes et des dieux
Language: Arabic, French
Genre: Drama, History
Director: Xavier Beauvois
Music: Mike Courtier
Cinematography: Caroline Champetier
A slow-burner and potently religious hymn, 2010 Cannes best director winner, my belated viewing is deterred by the fact that it is based on a brutal historical occurrence. Apparently the film itself holds steady its rumination and put it into a anti-theatrical perspective, instead of stressing the atrocity of slaughter.
A gradual stewing of incessant depictions of nature sceneries is both a challenge for patience and a dedicative elucidation of the Christian gospel. Juxtaposing with American’s contemporary Christian films (e.g. FIREPROOF 2008, COURAGEOUS 2011 and all that whose only trick is some kind of revoltingly mawkish doctrinairism), OF GODS AND MEN are endearingly touching under the backdrops of an impecunious Algerian community.
An impending danger hovers along the narrative, like a ticking time bomb, there will be no miracle for escapists to avoid from the horrendous truth, the most overpowering moment arrives when the SWAN LAKE is playing during their last supper, one realizes there is the swan song for them, the close-ups focusing on each individual’s face, resonates a world with utter devotedness and sublimates all the mundane afflictions into fearlessness and peace. Last but not the least, the final snow-treading sequence fulfills immaculately as a solemn and austere crowning moment.
Michael Lonsdale, the earnest standout as the elder doctor, a true scene-stealer supporting performance among a sterling French cast shepherded by a model-turned-priest Lambert Wilson, whose sorrowful countenance and stalwart faithfulness grants him a career-peak tour-de-force.
The elegiac and over-religious attribute may hinder its appeal from a more diverse audience, but the risk is worthy as it is a film with genuine integrity which induces people to look into oneself introspectively and generates a will to be a better person under any circumstances (speaking as an agnostic myself).