“The Prodigy”: brutal beliefs

MONTERREY, NL, (appro).- Ignorance and superstitions can lead to unsuspected destructive decisions.

El Prodigio (The Wonder, 2022) denounces the atrocities that are committed in the name of faith. The film confronts the beliefs of nurse Lib (Florence Pugh), in the face of an apparent miracle, and confirms the value of skepticism, hard facts, common sense, which should not be subdued by the desire to see, where they do not exist, supposed supernatural facts, dictated by a divine order that purifies.

After going through painful personal losses, and alone in the world, the tough Lib is called upon to observe, and try to explain, what seems like a work of God: the girl Anna (Kila Lord Cassidy) survives four months of starvation. , which makes her a saint. In the rural environment of Ireland, in the middle of the 19th century, she is considered heaven’s chosen one to demonstrate the powers of faith and her house has become the whereabouts of parishioners.

To witness this girl’s thaumaturgy, the nurse practically locks herself in a room to keep an eye on her, taking turns as a rigid nun, who will be her counterbalance. On the one hand there is the woman of science, who disbelieves in extraterrestrial phenomena and, on the other, the religious woman who clings to the belief in the intervention of angels. In the middle is a mysterious, silent girl, practically ignorant, who only repeats that she is an instrument of the Most High to manifest himself on Earth.

The director Sebastian Lelio, another of the geniuses that Latin America has exported to the world, presents on Netflix, for home screens, a work that is simultaneously portentous and discreet, and that is slowly roasting. Emma Donoghue’s novel is transformed into a protest against obscurantism. In the name of beliefs, the individual can hide any secret. The stubborn mind can confuse his desires with what it believes divinely dictates. The extremes are dangerous when the secrets that are kept have to do with unhealthy, aberrational, horrible revelations that should not transcend the family nucleus.

It is these twisted ideas that they want to impose on Lib, who fights against a world controlled by men who, perversely, cling to their preconceived ideas and made for manipulation. They view female watchmen solely as instruments of confirmation, not trusted agents.

With a period thriller format, the film patiently takes an interest in the lives of the characters who hide severe spiritual pain. Ari Wegner’s photography, aided only by natural light and lamps, frames ghostly environments that overwhelm. With an extraordinary handling of shadows, he creates aesthetic compositions of rich textures that refer to baroque settings. The appearances of the witnesses, defined with dim lights, in bare rooms with faded walls, seem to be confessions in a trial by Inquisitors, before the torture.

The action is framed by exquisite haunting music by Matthew Herbert.

Frustration motivates the nurse to force the investigations, while she finds in a skeptical journalist an ally who will give her affective comfort, but also the courage to confront the facts, without negotiating. However, as history shows, the search for truth in matters of religion always finds opposing forces from those who obtain benefits by keeping the masses subject to the designs of divinity.

Very familiar with period themes, Florence Pugh looks excellent as the opinionated nurse who battles her own demons to find answers. She comes to bet everything in an attempt to avoid a major outrage that, due to her unreason, hovers over the innocent girl who believes she is the bearer of prodigious gifts, as she has been told until she is convinced.

In the end, it is understood that the dogmas that govern closed minds remain immovable, so they must be defeated with cunning. Sometimes a white lie can be providential.

It remains a question whether the beginning and end scenes were necessary, in which another layer of reality is incorporated, to warn with a disconcerting instructive message about the scope of fiction, which can be told in various formats, such as this one. movie.

The Prodigal is a little movie gem, which directly impacts emotions.

“The Prodigy”: brutal beliefs