Robert Duvall received his fifth Oscar nomination for playing Euliss "Sonny" Dewey in the Apostle.
The apostle is a fascinating character study of an evangelical preacher who has done a lot of bad things but wants to try make up for it while he runs from the law. It follows him throughout his journey that brings him contact with a new congregation. It examination of the evangelical people is very interesting and incredibly well done.
Robert Duvall is almost always a good actor but when he fully throws himself into a role than he becomes a great actor. This role is an example of Duvall's best. He completely becomes the character of Sonny Dewey. Duvall is terrific every step of the way in this film, and this is one performance where you can completely credit the actor for it, since Duvall directed himself. Duvall creates a very vivid and original character here.
Sonny starts out as a standard popular evangelical who goes through many different circuits to praise the lord very loudly. At the same time he strays from the righteous path causing his wife (Farrah Fawcett ) to do the same. Duvall shows the characters strange righteousness early on, despite being wrong very well. Duvall seems like a real evangelical preacher and he never over does his preaching even though it consists of yelling. His scenes where he refuses to accept that his wife wants to leave him are brilliantly handled by Duvall. His anger with God in these scenes is perfectly handled, and his scene where he breakout into anger and attacks someone, is handled believably by Duvall.
After his attack, Sonny flees to the south, and decides to change his ways. He starts by baptizing himself, and then looking for a preacher who he believes will help him find the way. He meets this person and starts his own church again. His new change into a better person is correctly done, and Duvall makes his character naturally transition into a better person. Every scene he has in the new place is brilliant. From his scene where he tries to romance a local, to his radio broadcasts, to his big scene where he converts a local bigot to his faith. Every scene Duvall seems like a real unique person doing the same thing, and really gives the emotional strength to these scenes which is needed for them to work. His best scene though is the final scene with his final sermon to his congregation. Duvall puts so much energy and power into this scene, that it is not a scene one soon forgets after seeing it. Overall Duvall creates an original character, and gives an effective performance throughout the film.