Saturday, December 31, 2011

Capsule Review: Of Gods and Men (2010)

Near the end of Xavier Beauvois' OF GODS AND MEN we witness the nine Monks who we've spent the entirety of the film with breaking from their usual routine of chanting, studying or working to sit together and drink wine while listening to a section from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. It's a beautiful, sad moment as emotion fills their faces, the realization that their fate may already have been sealed combining with their intense resilience. The monks have lived in peace within a remote section of Algeria for many years, existing peacefully along the nearby Muslim community, but the rise of terrorist extremists has put them at extreme risk. The film covers their decision to stay despite almost certain death, and the quiet dignity that each man maintains as their faith is tested. Whether they make the right decision isn't made totally clear, but it's filmed in such a calm, dignified way that it's hard not to admire the dedication and devotion of these men, even if misguided. Winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes, it's a deliberately pace and perfectly acted film, and one relaying an unfortunate piece of recent history.

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