La Leggenda del Santo Bevitore
The Legend of the Holy Drinker
Italy / France 1988
Roberto Cicutto, Mario Cecchi Gori (executive), Vittorio Cecchi Gori (executive) for Cecchi Gori Group, Tiger Cinematografica, Aura Film, RAI
directed by Ermanno Olmi
starring Rutger Hauer, Anthony Quayle, Sandrine Dumas, Dominique Pinon, Sophie Segalen, Cécile Paoli, Jean-Maurice Chanet, Joseph De Medina, Francesco Aldighieri, Françoise Pinkwasser, Joséphine Lecaille, Maria Mazzocco, Dalila Belatreche
screenplay by Tullio Kezich, Ermanno Olmi, based on the novel by Joseph Roth, music by José Padilla
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Andreas (Rutger Hauer) is an alcoholic vagrant, usually sleeping under
bridges and living merely from one day to the next. Then though, a
stranger (Anthony Quayle) hands him 200 Francs to help him through a rough
patch, with the only condition that he returns the money to Saint
Thérèse at a certain church in the city whenever he's able to. This is
the beginning of a stroke of luck, as Andreas (at least at first) doesn't
spend the money unwisely, just on little creature comforts, like a shave
and a coffee and the like, and making himself more presentable in
consequence - and before he knows it he has a job that makes him 200 more
Francs. Thus he plans to return the money this very Sunday - but
ultimately gets so drunk in the café across the church that he misses
Fortunately for him, Andreas finds more money, and again makes big
plans to return the money, even promises Saint Thérèse, who appears to
him in a dream (and is played by Dalila Belateche), to do so come Sunday -
but again, fate intervenes, this time in shape of a dancing girl (Sandrine
Dumas) who becomes his lover for two nights and a friend (Dominique
Pinon), who talks him out of the money meant for church.
more and more opportunities to get to money and return it, but fate has
long put him on a downward spiral, and despite his most honest ambitions,
he seems less and less likely to ever succeed ...
of the Holy Drinker is most certainly a very unusual film as instead
of hammering home a point it combines motives both religious and profane
to a multi-layered plot that slowly unfolds from a rather simplistic
premise to a complex narrative that leaves many of its subplots
intentionally underexplored and thus open for one's own interpretations,
and that's held together by Rutger Hauer's very nuanced performance as the
well-meaning but fallible drunkard and an elegant yet subtle directorial
effort that manages to create a world all of its own to tell its story in.
worth a watch!