Critics' Pick

O Apóstolo (NR)

Animation 85 December 13, 2013
By Michael Nordine
The strangest animated feature in recent memory may also be the most memorable. Fernando Cortizo's O Apóstolo opens with an enigmatic prologue that introduces us to Ramón, a claymation convict who escapes from prison and is given the following advice from his fellow jailbreaker: "Those of us who are born thieves die like thieves." As if to test those dire words, Ramón immediately goes trekking along the Camino de Santiago in search of a treasure buried in a secluded village where, unknown to him or any of the other pilgrims passing through, townsfolk living under a curse enact ancient rites, rituals, and sacrifices in order to keep the Grim Reaper at bay. Few animated films (including those directed or produced by Tim Burton) are willing to enter territory as morbid as this without so much as a hint of irony; fewer still feature musical interludes about the Black Death. Exceedingly ambitious, O Apóstolo maintains an enjoyably off-kilter vibe that picks up the slack left by its occasionally spotty narrative — the manner in which Cortizo engages with centuries-old lore makes the narrative trajectory anything but predictable. This is a rare quality in animation and live-action alike, and one of many reasons Cortizo's film deserves more attention than it's likely to receive.
Fernando Cortizo Carlos Blanco, Xosé Manuel Olveira 'Pico', Paul Naschy, Jorge Sanz, Celso Bugallo, Geraldine Chaplin, Manuel Manquiña, Luis Tosar, Xosé Manuel Olveira 'Pico', Manuel Manquiña Fernando Cortizo
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