Robert Duvall has dazzled audiences since his feature film debut as Boo Radley in To Kill in Mockingbird all the way back in 1962. His best remembered for his work with Francis Ford Coppola in the ’70s and Network. Duvall had an inkling for directing and he wrote a script in the ’80s called The Apostle and he struggled to finance the film till the ’90s and had to use $4,000,000 of his own money eventually.
Duvall stars as the preacher Sonny who in the beginning murders somebody and is forced to go the lam. He starts a new life and wants to start a new church and naturally given the subject matter it’s all about eventual redemption. June Carter Cash plays his mother and Duvall cobbles together an outstanding supporting cast which includes Billy Bob Thornton (who repaid the favour by working for free which Duvall did for Sling Blade), Miranda Richardson and even Farrah Fawcett.
The problem with passion projects often is the creative behind the film; the actor, the director, the writer etc take such an earnest approach to the material it becomes slightly indulgent. The Apostle does fall into this at times because it never takes a stand on either side of Sonny which is both a smart tactic commercially especially in the deep South and creatively. Despite this it seems to be lacking some kind of punch to really become a classic. Duvall has rarely been better but his conservative leanings do filter into the film but does leave it ambiguous enough to remain captivating. It also suffers from being painfully dull at times and hardly sustains it’s two hour plus running time.
Drama | USA, 1997 | 15 | Fabulous Films | 6th July 2015 (UK) | Dir.Robert Duvall | Robert Duvall, Todd Allen, Paul Bagget, Billy Bob Thornton, Farrah Fawcett, Miranda Richardson.