Back in the mid-1800s, Professor Rivail had served as a beloved teacher for thirty years. On one fateful day, he gets cross when a Catholic priest interferes in his classroom. And he’s skeptical of the current “spinning tables” fad that has taken over Paris. He finds it hard to believe people think spirits cause the tables to spin. But that’s before he attends sessions involving mediums who seem authentic in their contact with particular spirits who have important messages to deliver. One spirit says that Rivail was Allan Kardec in a past life. So it doesn’t take long for the professor to adopt Kardec as his pen name and to begin his investigation of Spiritism, which changes everything for him and his loyal wife.
Based on a true story, Kardec follows Rivail (Leonardo Medeiros) as he interviews mediums, writes his results, faces harsh criticism, suffers setbacks and yet carries on with his mission to codify Spiritism. All the while, his loving wife (Sandra Corveloni) remains at Rivail’s side and supports his controversial cause. The tender scenes between these two characters are beautiful to watch. Their rapport appears completely genuine.
Too bad so many other parts of the film come across as dark and dreary. However, period costumes and interesting settings help us feel a sense of place, and that’s important for a movie like this. Still, the subject matter lends itself to confusion and the dialogue seems a bit flat.
Search for the truth can bring great pain.
He cannot stop; too much to gain.
Are spirits here to talk to us?
If so, that causes lots of fuss.
Mediums say they can connect.
Some people think that’s not correct.
Against the spirits science raves.
The Church wants them to stay in graves.
Heresy and witchcraft, they shout.
His studies and books they want out.
Kardec continues anyway.
His books remain even today.
“Kardec” the film, murky to see --
but worth the time. Just believe me.
Stay with the story as it goes.
And don’t give up before the close.
Embodied spirits constitute the mankind. It is not restricted to the earth only but instead it inhabits all the worlds in space. – Allan Kardec
Director: Wagner de Assis
Writers: L.G. Bayao and Wagner de Assis
(A film from Brazil released by Netflix. Not rated by MPAA.)
For more information about Kardec, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.