NEW YORK (CNS) - "Fatima" (Picturehouse), a fact-based drama from director and co-writer Marco Pontecorvo, recounts what may rank as the most remarkable series of religious events of modern times. Namely, the 1917 apparitions of the Virgin Mary (Joana Ribeiro) to three shepherd children near the Portuguese city of the title. Despite a few flaws, believers will find Pontecorvo's chronicle congenial fare that's suitable for all but the youngest viewers.
The narrative is told in flashbacks during a 1980s interview between fictional Professor Nichols (Harvey Keitel), a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic, and the only one of the trio to have survived into adulthood, Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos (Sonia Braga). As the two spar over the reality of what Sister Lucia experienced, the scene shifts to the very different times of her childhood.
"Fatima" is a welcome affirmation of faith in the midst of worldwide challenges to health and tranquility. If nothing else made it timely, the reflection that Jacinta, aged 9, and Francisco, at a year older, both perished in the influenza pandemic that began in 1918 would serve to do so.
Sister Lucia, by contrast, lived a long life, dying in 2005 at 97. Her cousins were canonized on the centennial of the first Fatima apparition, May 13, 2017. The cause to raise her to the same status is currently active.
The film contains mature themes and bloodless images of combat violence. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II - adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 - parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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