Fatima ⭐️⭐️

Director: Marco Pontecorvo. Cast: Joaquim de AlmeidaGoran VisnjicStephanie Gil, Alejandra Howard, Harvey Keitel.

The film is told through a series of flashbacks during an interview with a skeptic journalist (not quite sure what’s Harvey Keitel doing here) and Sister Lucia, a 95 years old nun who remembers her experiences in the small town of Fatima in Portugal, where she as a young girl and 2 of her friends had visions of the Virgin Mary.

It’s an intriguing story which powerful repercussions and important questions to ask, about faith, miracles, trust in God and so on, but never once I thought director Marco Pontecorvo (son of Gillo, from the Battle of Algeri) is quite able to convey the importance and resonance of the event in the eyes of the thousands of people who eventually said to have witnessed the miracle too.

This is a film that preaches to already “converted” and its by-the-numbers and rather superficial approach is unlikely to have any sort of impact on non-believers, in fact it will ultimately alienate them.And that’s a real shame because there’s a lot of technical skills behind the “Fatima” (mainly the impressive historical reconstructions and the huge number of extras). Instead the film depicts card-board characters, give us terribly cheesy lines of dialogue, unconvincing accents (everybody, including the Virgin Mary speak English with a Portuguese accent, which I found very distracting and constantly took me away from film) and wastes plenty of opportunities to both question the event but also to make us really understand the importance of it in the eyes of the believers. A whole crowd of them is treated as a mob, instead of a group of single individuals, they’re all reacting rather mechanically and dare-I-say stupidly to what’s going on with plenty of cliché and over the top reactions. The use of overly sentimental music tries to fill the gaps and stir those emotions in us which the film is otherwise unable give us.

The film plays it straight and simple for most of it, but when it doesn’t, that’s when it all falls to pieces.I would have probably been more impactful and real not to see any vision at all (or maybe keep it for the very end), which would have kept at least some sort of mystery about it. I also found the quick CGI visions of Hell completely out of keeping with the rest of the film.

In the end, whilst I admired the film’s pure intentions (I am sure this will certainly be a hit among religious communities) I found it all much too bland, rather superficial and crucially a bit unintentionally laughable too.

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