The Apostle

The hardest soul to save was his own.

134 min     6.5     1997     USA


After his happy life spins out of control, a preacher from Texas changes his name, goes to Louisiana and starts preaching on the radio.


Wuchak wrote:
_**Character study of a flawed preacher**_ "The Apostle" (1997) is a film that I've appreciated more as I've matured. Writer/director Robert Duvall had to make it independently because studios wouldn’t touch the material. The story's a character study of a Southern Pentecostal preacher, Sonny (Duvall), whose wife wants to leave him (Farrah Fawcett) and more. Sonny reacts foolishly and is forced into exile to the backwaters of Louisiana. Wherever Sonny goes, he can't seem to part with his "calling" and "anointing" – to lead people to the LORD and motivate believers. If you can't handle Pentecostalism and all that goes with it – lively praise & worship, charismatic gifts, evangelism and prayer – I suggest staying far away from "The Apostle." I also suggest you stay away if you're not into seeing depictions of Southern poverty or nigh-poverty since large portions of the film take place in this environment. Duvall's idea was to do a modern take on the King David tragedy: A man of God who falls into adultery and, then, worse. Even so, Duvall stated in a 2010 interview that Sonny's sins aren't half as bad as David's since there are big differences between their transgressions. "The Apostle" is the best kind of character study because it evokes strong opinions and interesting discussions. Is Sonny a genuine but seriously flawed minister or just a phony who doesn't know it? Put another way, can a Christian be a "man (or woman) after God's own heart" and still commit serious sins? Does Sonny legitimately repent or does he evade repentance? Is the theology presented in the film shallow or heavy? Is resorting to righteous anger or corporeal punishment sometimes appropriate for the New Testament believer or should Christians always be lovey-dovey doormats? There's nothing like "The Apostle" in cinema. It's a unique and moving drama that gets better with repeat viewings because a lot of what is conveyed is subtle and wordless. There's just the right amount of ambiguity that keeps the viewer guessing and the movie open to interpretation. The film runs 2 hours, 14 minutes, and was shot in Collin County & Denton County, Texas (both just north of Dallas) and Lafayette, Louisiana. GRADE: A-