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The Apostle (1997)

Cast: Robert Duvall, Robert Duvall, Farrah Fawcett, more...
Director: Robert Duvall, Robert Duvall
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Drama, Independent
Running Time: 134 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
    see additional details...

Devout Pentecostal preacher Eulis "Sonny" Dewey (Robert Duvall) of New Boston, Texas, has a lovely wife (Farrah Fawcett) and two children. But not only has Jessie been cheating on him with a younger minister, Horace (Todd Allen), she has pulled a few strings to gain control of his church. Sonny goes into a violent rage, attacking Horace with a bat during a softball game. With Horace in a coma, Sonny leaves town on a bus, headed east for a new life. He changes his name to E.F., baptizing himself as "The Apostle" to God. Arriving in the black community of Bayou Boutte, Louisiana, he meets Brother Blackwell (John Beasley) who helps him start anew. E.F. works as a garage mechanic and preaches on the streets and a local radio station owned by Elmo (Rich Dial). He leads the community in remodeling a rundown church and gains supporters as he seeks his own salvation. In sorrow from the deaths of both his mother (June Carter Cash) and Horace, he encounters more problems when a racist (Billy Bob Thornton) attempts to drive a bulldozer into his church. Eventually, Jessie finds out where he's living and informs the police. Duvall wrote, directed, and financed this exploration of the evangelical world, shown at the Toronto Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. Filmed in Texas (Denton County, Collin County, and Dallas) and Lafayette, Louisiana. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

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Tender Mercies
An earlier Duvall labor of love, this lovely Horton Foote-Bruce Beresford film also set in the South had a gentler tone

Elmer Gantry
From salesman to preacher goes Elmer Gantry in this fine adaption of the Sinclair Lewis novel. "Repent! Repent!"

GreenCine Member Reviews

The amazing feat of Bobby Duvall by mrfrosting July 9, 2004 - 10:46 AM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
"The Apostle" is a very good movie. And I'm surprised that it was ever made. On the surface, it looks like a religious tale. But more to the point, it's a character study. It's a portrait of the good and bad in a person. It's about failure and redemption.

Duvall is amazing to watch. The slow pace of the film works well -- it manages to bring the background hum of the cicadas to the foreground at several points. The film is a richly layered piece of work.

Things to note: if you have a strong dislike of church, sermons or God in general, you will probably not appreciate this film as many of the scenes involve church services and preaching; though a person with a healthy amount of skepticism could still marvel at this film. The documentary on the disc is also helpful in exploring the film, its production and the ideas within and around its characters and situations. It's been over a month since I've seen it and it still pops in my head every once in awhile.

I hear Robert Duvall yelling at me about Jesus by spazgirl January 9, 2003 - 2:01 PM PST
5 out of 11 members found this review helpful
It's the morning after I watched "The Apostle" and I'm still hearing Robert Duvall doing his preaching thing: "Jee-ah-sus!" It's a long film (133 minutes) and a good chunk of it (well over half) was people (mostly Duvall) singing, yelling, or otherwise vocalizing about Jesus. The preaching scenes, for the most part, are quite long and don't further the story in any way - this minimized their impact on me. The movie does a pretty good job of simulating the kinds of religious fervor that I have seen on various cable channels, but unlike the TV versions, I couldn't just change the channel when I had had enough. So one problem I had: too much preaching. Another thing that bothered me was the foley work - too many scenes had way too much chirping (cicadas? crickets?) that was so loud that it distracted me from the dialogue; there were a couple of other incidents where there was excessive superimposed loud noise that was pretty annoying. Then there are all the unanswered questions (not really spoilers): What did Duvall's character do two days earlier that gave the church reason to vote him out? What was the significance of Billy Bob Thornton's character? (If you have an answer, I would respond with something like "That's pretty weak...") Why did Duvall, as director, get to keep the film at 133 minutes when there was so much fat that could have been cut out and when so many other directors mention in their DVD commentaries that they had to sacrifice scenes they thought were crucial to keep it under 2 hours? And why do I keep hearing "Jee-ah-sus!" and when will it stop?

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.82)
281 Votes
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