UK, 2018, 130 minutes, Colour.
Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, Richard Elfyn, Paul Higgins, Bill Milner, Catrin Aaron, Lucy Boynton, Sharon Morgan.
Directed by Gareth Evans.
Apostle is a grim drama set on an island off the British coast, and 1905 setting, a picture of a cult which has religious overtones but is involved in financial schemes and abductions. It was directed by Gareth Evans, best known for the two films he made in Indonesia, The Raid and Raid 2.
Dan Stevens plays the hero, sent to the island undercover to try to make contact with his abducted sister. Michael Sheen is the controller of the cult but there are various rivals amongst the hierarchy.
While the film shows some detail of life within the cult, the arrivals, the checks, the accommodation, the hard work, the celebrations, the religious gatherings in the church, the film moves into violent confrontations and torture. Some of the sequences are particularly gruesome. These, and a sense, while realistic, may be too much for the audience who would be interested in the themes.
There are also some supernatural overtones to life on the island. There is a strong British supporting cast.
1. The title, Malcolm, Charles, Thomas himself?
2. The period, 1905, costumes and decor? The island, the cliffs, the heights? The village, streets, homes, the Church? The musical score?
3. The picture of a cult, the background of the founder, the flashbacks, the setting up of the community? The motivations? The island and its isolation? Values, beliefs, religious, criminal? The statue on the grounds? The woman, “She”, kept in isolation, fed blood, her appetite? Her protector, visual, physical, weapons? Her being in the cave, the web? The crops, success and failure? Relying on fate? Manipulation of Fate? The religious aspects, the meetings in the church? Prayer?
4. The file and themes, the visual violence, gruesome, the touches of core? How they represented? The effect on the audience? (Especially the death of Jeremy and the drill and the wound in his head, the death of She, burnt?)
5. The story of Thomas Richardson, his past, missionary, China, his religious role, the persecution, his stances, his faith, his being branded with the cross? The absence of God, his loss of faith, the effect, his return home, the discussion with his relative, his looking wild-eyed, the story of Jennifer and the issue of the ransom? His decision to find her, to bring her back?
6. The voyage, his merging with the other converts, the man with the ticket, duping him, and the man later tortured? The chickens on arrival, the inspections, health, possessions? Climbing the hill? The house, settling in, the visit to the church?
7. Malcolm, leader, scene preaching, his values, crooked, the issue of the ransom, to protect the growth of the community, the crops? With his henchmen and underlings? The searching of belongings during the social function? His experience in violent, Charles and his betrayal? And his love for his daughter, their father, protection?
8. Charles, his role, his daughter and wanting to protect her, her relationship with Jeremy, discovering her pregnant, his violence towards her, killing her, accusing Jeremy? Jeremy taken, interrogated, tortured, the brutality of his death? Charles and his taking over the community, wounding Malcolm? The encounter with She and the bodyguard? Wanting to confront Thomas?
9. Jeremy, young, friendship with Thomas, his relationship with the young woman, love, pregnancy, a future, discovering her dead, Charles accusing him, trial, torture and death?
10. Thomas and his role in the community, a lot of work, befriending Jeremy? Attitude towards Malcolm? The search for his sister, the discovery of her being in the bag and hanging? Finding her, liberating her, the rescue? The confrontation with She, she and her pleading for death, the fight with the bodyguard, setting everything alight? His return to confront Charles, the fight, wounding, death?
11. His working searching, the underground Tom tunnels, during the social function? Malcolm, his being wounded, not dying? Thomas’ encounter with him on the cliff, his being wounded, saving the women and sending them to the boat?
12. The two men on the cliff top, death, the launch sailing away?
13. A grim picture of a cultish community, the consequent power struggles, violence, oppression?