The title hints at a documentary structure,Lourdes is the French town at the base of the Pyrennes,synonymous with the notion of miraculous cures. This movie was shot in Lourdes, with the agreement of Church authorities.The film is subtly hedging its agnostic bets,beautifully filmed and composed with long-shot or side-angled photography. Testud as Christine,a young qudraplegic woman with MS,who is wheel-chair bound and comes as a `pilgrim'to Lourdes. She can't see why she's been afflicted and wants more from life, to be like `normal' people.Jessica Hausner, an Austrian film-maker,wanted not to mock the idea of spiritual comfort or bodily repair,she wanted to do a test-case healing,but with such precision and sardonic wit,that the repercussions,envy,insight into the pilgrims' minds, the fall-out,of the miracle that is not, are superbly rendered.The attitudes of other pilgrims to Christine after her healing are wonderfully depicted,why her and not me? There is a Greek chorus in the two fellow pilgrims,garrulous fraus,Huber and Spor.Also we get the concurrent life of the Order of Malta volunteers,whose lack of piety and flirting with each other,mirror in some way Christine's low-key response to a miracle cure.Has she merely won on the lottery to find out her ticket has the wrong numbers?Is she a higher form of traveler in a ghastly cultural/ spiritual package tour?Christine seems to compete with Maria,a volunteer for the attentions of Kuno,an older man Order helper.We get a reflection of different degrees of spirituality:some like Cecille who overdo it,a stickler for religious protocol and religious respect,doesn't believe in miracles, collapses.Frau Hartl is too serious.
There is the hint of Jacques Tati's influence with the choreography of movement of the crowd scenes,the sublime in the form of a comedy of manners.Christine,a wheelchair confined invalid going along for the ride on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, by which I mean that it is a pilgrimage only for the group she is with, as 1) a sceptic and 2) bored and lonely because of her condition, she has more or less tagged along for lack of an alternative. There's a nice mix of satire and sentiment at work here as we note the commercial aspects of organised religion and the negative aspects of human nature masquerading as piety. But, her mind is vibrant, she seems to accept the help of nurse volunteers at Lourdes with a pleasant demeanor. She tells a priest, in confession, that she gets angry over her diagnosis and feels envious of able bodied people, like a nurse who is flirting with a man on the trip that she fancies. This is like a group tour, with a different activity each day: a hike through the grotto, a bath in the water, even an award at the end of the trip for the "Best Pilgrim." Christine has Frau Hartl stay with her. Their relationship is one of fellow pilgrims/caregiver, they barely talk or interact, except in a very distant fashion. A couple of the older volunteers hang together at night and discuss deep topics of faith and spirituality. Juxtapose that with Christine confessing to her nurse that she is not really a believer, she just goes on the pilgrimages because she can't really get out of the house for much else.When the inevitable miracle occurs, within the group, some are jealous, others are sceptical, others just wonder why some are chosen and others are not.A medical examination proves inconclusive.We get the wobble on the dance floor.The music consists of Schubert, Bach spiritual standards and some karaoke at the end.The colour scheme dominated by blue with some splashes of red.