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At Theaters: 1/30/1998 On Video: 8/18/1998
Rated: PG-13 Length: 2 hr. 28 min.
Internet: Web Site Movie ID: 019816
Studio: October Films
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Storyline Heading

Threatened with the simultaneous loss of both his family and his church, Sonny is driven to commit a crime of passion, seriously injuring the young preacher his wife, Jessie (Farrah Fawcett,) has fallen in love with. Knowing he has gone too far, Sonny flees, even though he knows it means leaving behind everyone he loves and everything he has worked hard to achieve. Abandoning his mother and children, his home, parish and reputation, he changes his name to the cryptic "E.F." and dubs himself "The Apostle." Leaving his native Texas and heading into the bayous of Louisiana, he destroys all traces of his true identity. Finally, he resurfaces in the remote town of Bayou Boutte and sets about rehabilitating a small, abandoned church that has lost its purpose and its parishioners. In this way, the Apostle is able to rehabilitate himself.

Movie Type (Genre) Heading
Drama - THE APOSTLE is a character study of a Christian preacher.  It is a sincere and balanced movie that treats the main character with dignity without turning him into a saint.  Writer/director/actor Robert Duvall has gone to great lengths not to attack religion, and the result is an effective, if slow-moving, drama.
Cast and Crew Heading
Robert Duvall (Phenomenon, The Scarlett letter)
Farrah Fawcett (Myra Breckinridge)
Miranda Richardson (The Evening Star)
Producer: Rob Carliner (A Family Thing)
Dir/Prod/Wri: Robert Duvall "See Cast"
Production Notes Heading
About The Production
Content Heading
PROFANITY: Mild and infrequent.
VIOLENCE: Infrequent.
DRUGS/ALCOHOL: Occasional drinking.

Pictures © October Films ®
All Rights Reserved.

Critic's Review Heading
A relatively simple tale about a far-from-simple character, THE APOSTLE never falters in its portrayal of Euliss "Sonny" Dewey as a real, flesh-and-blood human being.  Unlike many movies that deal with religion and religious figures, THE APOSTLE does not set out to uncover corruption and hypocrisy or to attack deeply-held beliefs.  It does not patronize or satirize.  It is respectful without being reverential.  THE APOSTLE is a character study, and, like all motion pictures of this sort, its ultimate success depends upon how compelling the protagonist is.  As essayed by Duvall, arguably one of America's ten-best living actors, Sonny is the kind of complex individual we could watch for hours on end without ever losing interest.

Opinion Heading

Based on an Exit Polling of 212 Moviegoers

Ages Age Group
Your Probability of
Enjoying This Movie
Movie To Friends
13-19Teens (M/F)
About 50/50
20-29Yg Adults (M)
20-29Yg Adults (F)
About 50/50
30+Adults (M)
30+Adults (F)
*Possible Ratings: Very High, High, Fairly High, About 50/50, Fairly Low, Low, Very Low.

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Euliss "Sonny" Dewey (Robert Duvall), a popular and colorful Pentecostal preacher from Texas, finds his world crumbling around him when he realizes that his long­suffering wife, Jessie (Farrah Fawcett,) has fallen in love with a younger minister, Horace (Todd Allen.) Fed up with Sonny's long absences and philandering, Jessie manipulates church by­laws and manages to wrest control of the church from her husband. Facing the loss of his wife and children, as well as his congregation, Sonny gets a bit drunk and confronts Jessie in the middle of their son's Little League game. Suddenly, overtaken by jealousy and rage, Sonny strikes Horace in the head with a baseball bat. Realizing that he's gone too far, he flees town, and after shedding all traces of his past, he boards a bus headed for Louisiana. Adopting a new identity, Sonny baptizes himself "The Apostle."

The Apostle lands in Bayou Boutte, a mostly black bayou town. There, he befriends a retired preacher, Reverend Blackwell (John Beasley), a former fire­and­brimstone Pentecostal who left the pulpit because of a heart condition. With zealous passion, the Apostle convinces Blackwell to gather up a new congregation for what will be called "The One Way Road to Heaven" Church.

Determined to find backing for his new endeavor, the Apostle agrees to work as a garage mechanic for the local radio station owner, Elmo (Rick Dial) in exchange for free air time to preach. After Blackwell finds them a run­down pastoral church to house the ever-growing flock, the Apostle marshals the community to help renovate it.

At the radio station, the Apostle begins a gentle romance with Elmo's secretary, Toosie (Miranda Richardson) who, like Sonny, is separated from her husband and children. But the Apostle's newfound happiness proves bittersweet when he calls his old friend Joe (Billy Joe Shaver) and learns that his mother (June Carter Cash) has passed away. He also finds out that Horace who had been in a coma, has died. From one desperate act of passion, the Apostle now discovers that he is responsible for taking another man's life.

Assuaging his guilt and sorrow, the Apostle throws his energy into re­building the church. He preaches daily on the radio, and takes to the streets, gathering supporters on a revamped school bus. While the church flourishes, the Apostle cannot escape his own inner demons and his burning desire to see his children and reclaim the life he left behind.

At a congregation picnic, a racist troublemaker (Billy Bob Thornton) arrives on a bulldozer and announces his intention to destroy the church which ministers to a mostly black population. Without calling the police, whom he is trying to avoid, the Apostle embraces the man with the word of God and dissuades him from wrong­doing. This moment proves to Sonny that he is still capable of saving a life, even though he knows that he has also taken one.

Seeking his own salvation, the Apostle fervently continues to spread the word through his grass­roots church. With his congregation and reputation growing, and his radio sermons increasing in audience, it is only a matter of time before Jessie hears him preaching over the airwaves. After a final sermon to his devoted followers, the Apostle surrenders peacefully to awaiting State Troopers, ready to pay for his crime. When we last see him, he is preaching on a chain gang, certain in the knowledge that he has rediscovered his true calling.

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