(director/writer:Marco Pontecorvo; screenwriters: Valerio D’Annunzio, Barbara Nicolosi; cinematographer: Vincenzo Carpineta; editor : Alessio Doglione; music: Paolo Buonvino; cast: Joaquim de Almeida (Father Ferreira), Goran Visnjić (Arturo), Stephanie Gil (Lucia), Lúcia Moniz (Maria Rosa), Sônia Braga (Sister Lucia), Harvey Keitel (Prof. Nichols), Joana Ribeiro(Mary), Jorge Lamelas (Francisco); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: James T. Volk, Dick Lyles, Stefano Buono, Maribel Lopera Sierra, Marco Pontecorvo, Rose Ganguzza, Natasha Howes; Picturehouse; 2020-U.S/Portugal)
“The reverential film will not change the minds of either believers or doubters.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A faith-based film written and directed by Marco Pontecorvo (“Lost Love”/”Letter to Juliet.” He’s the son of Gillo, the director of “The Battle of Algiers”). It’s a plodding follow-up on a 1952 Warner Bros. drama about three youngsters in 1917 who saw in their rural village of Fatima, Portugal, an apparition of Mary (Joana Ribeiro) that became a popular pilgrimage site known as The Miracle of the Sun or The Miracle of Fatima. In 1930, the Roman Catholic Church recognized the apparition as “worthy of belief.”Writers Pontecorvo, Valerio D’Annunzio and Barbara Nicolosi, true believers, argue that the Miracle at Fatima is real even if offering proof of its sighting only through faith, that maybe only devout Catholics can readily accept.
This film revisits the always suspect events in “Fatima,” and honors those who live by their convictions. Its role models are the innocent children who are the true believers. The reverential film will not change the minds of either believers or doubters. I found it a bore, an exercise in futility, a film that reduces religion to believing in miracles.
Professor Nichols (Harvey Keitel) is a skeptic who comes to Fatima and questions whether there was anything supernatural at the Fatima event. The truth is to be determined on the strength of the 10-year-old Lúcia (Stephanie Gil), a devout Catholic, whose spiritual visions are attacked by naysayers. Sônia Braga plays Sister Lucia, the young girl who in 2005 died at age 97 (the other two witnesses were her cousins, who died in 1918 of influenza and were canonized as saints).
All the characters are one-dimensional and stiffly played, in a film that asks soft-ball questions and is as limited as are most faith-based films.
REVIEWED ON 9/4/2020 GRADE: C+