“You must choose between confession and the baths,” firmly demands a character in Lourdes, a graceful examination of organized religion, individual will, and the balancing act between devotion and denial, public piety and private dreams. The wheelchair-bound Christine (Sylvie Testud, Fear and Trembling) is visiting the French pilgrimage site of Lourdes to pray for a miracle, take the waters, and “enjoy” the constant company of fellow pilgrims and assorted hangers-on (including Bruno Todeschini and Elina Löwensohn). Awkward dinners, long queues, the “shh's” of nuns, and the constant Ave Maria's drifting from the speakers: all is suffocatingly over-organized in this organized religion, but the whispered sounds of gossip and flirtation remind Christine that life, and even faith, is far more mysterious. Part Wiseman-esque inquiry into organizational patterns, part wry Kaurismaki-like comedy of repressed outsiders, Lourdes is, for the New York Times, an “intelligent, rigorously thoughtful, somewhat sly film.” “If it does not last, then He is not in charge,” theorizes one pilgrim. “Do you think there'll be dessert?” responds another.

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