Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28
  1. Duvall’s direction of a mix of professional and nonprofessional actors, especially in the extended church sessions, is never less than masterful.
  2. 100
    Duvall's screenplay does what great screenwriting is supposed to do, and surprises us with additional observations and revelations in every scene.
  3. Avoiding the clichés and condescension that characterize many films on religious figures, the movie is at once a compelling drama and a thoughtful look at faith-related issues on personal, social, and cultural levels.
  4. Unusual, unhurried tour de force--a seamless match of strong artistic vision and physical performance. [19 Dec 1997, p. 52]
  5. 100
    An effortlessly complex portrayal that relishes the contradictions and complexities of someone capable of both exalted and debased behavior, a shape-shifter it is possible to be fascinated, repelled and compelled by, all at the same time.
  6. 100
    Duvall is a blazing wonder in a film that ranks with the year's best.
  7. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The fact that Duvall gives such a glorious performance in The Apostle is likely to distract people from the fact that he has also written and directed a glorious movie--the most vivid and radiantly made of 1997.
  8. Reviewed by: Joshua Klein
    The numerous, extended revival scenes are amazing, with Duvall a dynamo of divine energy and devout dedication.
  9. 100
    If you want to sample the sheer bouquet of great acting, you could get drunk on this movie.
  10. Reviewed by: Daphne Merkin
    Duvall's performance is so passionate, so energized, that it's almost eerie: is Sonny acting him or is he acting Sonny?
  11. 89
    Whether strutting like a bantam rooster for the Lord, fervently calling himself a “genuine Holy Ghost, Jesus-filled preaching machine,” or humbly acknowledging the folly of his actions, Duvall inhabits the character of Sonny, completely disappearing into the man's skin.
  12. Reviewed by: Jason Matloff
    Duvall delivers a bravura, Oscar-quality performance....The Apostle is a profoundly humane movie that crackles with the joy and sorrow of an old blues record.
  13. Reviewed by: Neil Jeffries
    Nothing can make an agnostic squirm like full-on religion but by loading his central character with lay weaknesses as well as spiritual strengths, Duvall invests the near-documentary style film with an everyman appeal.
  14. 80
    This little knockout of a movie, written and directed by Robert Duvall -- who also plays the title character, a roving Texas evangelist -- can strike you in the same way that Bible stories did when you first encountered them as a child.
  15. Reviewed by: B.J. Sigesmund
    The masterful Duvall skillfully illuminates the paradoxes of a very complex man; he also elicits honest performances from his cast. The zealous churchgoers seem more like real people than actors.
  16. Reviewed by: David Denby
    The best movie ever made about a man of God -- which is to say, the most honest and morally the most ambiguous.
  17. Duvall's unobtrusive direction moves the film at a leisurely pace that lets many scenes build the gentle, pleasing rhythms of small-town Southern life. A rare display of spiritual light on screen.
  18. It's rare that we have a screen character as well-rounded, as recognizably human or as brilliantly played as Sonny Dewey.
  19. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    A good little movie dominated by a great central performance that's likely to endure. [30 Jan 1998, p.D2]
  20. 75
    In his long and distinguished career, only his Oscar-winning performance in 1983's “Tender Mercies” was this raw. Duvall becomes Sonny. The energy and passion of a preacher are all present.
  21. Robert Duvall's performance as a Holy Roller who shakes off his secular life to become a man simply known as “the Apostle” is a masterpiece of emotion.
  22. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    Beautifully detailed and deftly structured, every scene in The Apostle logically leads to the next one, each elaborating on the central theme of religious redemption.
  23. A too-perfect mirror of its creator, The Apostle's greatest strength doubles as a singular weakness -- in the end, it feels like an immaculate forgery.
  24. Reviewed by: Tom Meek
    Duvall chews up the scenery with smoldering, fire-and-brimstone orations.
  25. 60
    This rambling exercise in local color has been a pet project of Duvall's for more than a decade, and it's to his credit that he managed to get such a low-concept picture produced. It's also to his credit that he resists the temptation to take easy potshots at religion, particularly of the revivalist variety.
  26. Reminded me somewhat of Archibald MacLeish's famous line that a poem "should not mean but be." That's the reality of The Apostle: It does not mean, it simply is.
  27. In the end, The Apostle feels like a con, a movie that embraces its contradictions only because it's not smart enough to reconcile them; everything feels complex, but, in fact, it's far too simple.
  28. One of the most self-in-dulgent, muddled, badly written, vague and pointless exercises in filmmaking I have ever had to sit through.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 14 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 1 out of 2
  1. OliverC.
    Mar 11, 2006
    One of Duvall's best roles. He made this movie fascinating.
  2. DaveT.
    Feb 19, 2006
    I rented this movie based on the high metacritic score. What a mistake. Robert Duvall should stick to acting, the 2 points is for his I rented this movie based on the high metacritic score. What a mistake. Robert Duvall should stick to acting, the 2 points is for his convincing acting performance. the flaws in this movie are too numerous to get into. Firstly, the movie just drags on and on, it felt like a 3 hour movie of just rambling preacher speak. many parts of this movie should have been left on the cutting room floor. The billy bob character is just pointless. he apears in the last half hour of the movie with a grudge. no point to have him at all. the last of many many sermons i was just fast forwarding the dvd [***SPOILER***] until the cops took sonny away. I think critics like the robert duvall performance (which was good) and just gave the movie a pass, ignoring the ultra slow pace of the movie as well as the baffling and useless billy bob character. Full Review »