Spiritually Significant Film

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The Apostle (1997)

Disturbing but thought-provoking depiction of genuine faith coexisting with sin and carnality. Robert Duvall, in a virtuoso performance, portrays Euliss “Sonny” Dewey, a Southern Pentecostal preacher whose whole life is permeated by religious sentiment yet who succumbs almost without struggle to sensuality and fits of violent anger. Duvall, who also wrote in addition to directing and starring, persuasively brings these contradictory elements together to create a convincingly realized portrait of a man with whom we cannot quite sympathize nor quite condemn; a man who wrestles with God with the emotion and frankness of a Job, yet without Job’s moral uprightness; a man who genuinely and sincerely preaches Jesus Christ and the gospel as he understands it everywhere he goes — who, indeed, cannot help preaching Jesus Christ, who knows nothing but preaching Jesus Christ — but who also cannot stop sinning. To the critical viewer, Duvall’s film, like the troubling fiction of Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Flannery O’Connor, is in the end a vindication of belief without being a vindication of every believer.

-- Steven D. Greydanus



Directed by Robert Duvall
134 minutes
Primary language(s): English