REVIEWER: lyall carter
After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.
After Sonny (Robert Duvall), an eccentric Pentecostal preacher, learns that his wife is having an affair, he beats her lover into a coma and flees the state of Texas. Now in a small Louisiana town, Sonny goes by the name of "Apostle E.F." and opens a new church with the help of a retired reverend (John Beasley). While battling personal demons and injecting new life into his congregation, Sonny dates a radio station worker (Miranda Richardson) and searches for peace in his new life.
The power of The Apostle is to be found in its beautiful nuanced approach to the subject of Pentecostalism and the way in which it shapes its characters, giving them all a flawed but deeply likeable humanity.
Ever since the social revolution of the 60’s and 70’s, it has been the ‘in thing’ to knock institutions, especially the Christian faith. And it would have been easy for the Apostle to head down a very similar route but it doesn’t; it has faith in its subject. The Apostle completely immerses the audience into that world without a single sarcastic wink or self righteous nudge.
And this is mainly down to the character of Sonny, the Apostle. Even though he does a horrendous thing, he is never exposed as a charlatan, one of those televangelist, jet owning types. He genuinely believes what he preaches and despite his flaws is attempting to practice it as well.
The Apostle is a thoroughly impressive film that doesn’t satire its subject but offers up an extremely flawed but likeable character in a career best turn from Duvall.