Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"Hadewijch": A nun is tested, with disturbing results 

Wednesday, Dec 29 2010
Comments

With excessive ardency and prayers addressing Christ like an absent lover, postulant nun Celine (Julie Sokolowski) draws the disapproval of mother superior, who calls the girl "a caricature of a nun," and sends her out to rediscover herself in the world. Writer-director Bruno Dumont, with his great capacity for translating environment to the screen, shows a quietly crumbling European Christianity in wintertime, of empty seats in houses of worship held together with scaffolding. Back at her palatial family flat, Celine rejects her posh background for friendships in the Arab banlieue. Told with brusque ellipsis and unusually expressive close-ups — Sokolowski is as vivid as a hunted animal in her death throes — the tale of Celine's exploring the outside world is impregnated with the anxious sense of waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Dumont teases at length the viewer's protective instinct toward his heroine, who has no sense of self-preservation of her own — then jerks a hard turn, reminding us that we should fear innocence as much as fear for it. Hadewijch follows the director's philosophy of rugged, squalid secular humanism into an abrupt, uncoordinated salvation scene — but not even that lapse can dispel the lingering effect of the perturbing, harsh images that preceded it.

About The Author

Nick Pinkerton

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • A Look Back at Summer 2014
    Labor Day is the unofficial end to summer -- back to school, the days grow shorter, and fall weather is just around the corner. So have a look back at San Francisco's 2014 summer.
  • Jack White at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
    Jack White and his band performed at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday and Saturday nights in front of sold out audiences. Jack entertained his fans with music that included songs from his days with The White Stripes, and The Raconteurs, as well as hits from his solo albums; Blunderbuss and Lazaretto. Photography by Sugarwolf.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed