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Céline, a theology student, takes the name of Hadewijch, a 13th century mystic from Brabant, as her name for her novitiate. But shocked by the blind, ecstatic faith of Hadewijch, the mother superior tells her she must leave the convent and find her vocation in the world.
Hadewijch once again becomes Céline, 20, the daughter of a French minister. She meets Yassine, a North African from the banlieues, who introduces her to his brother Nassir, a committed Muslim and religious instructor. Her passionate love of God and her despair at God s invisibility, her rage, and her desire for self-sacrifice lead her, between grace and madness, off along dangerous paths.
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Dumont’s trademark visual style has become so influential that it is now prevalent, if not trendy, in the work of young filmmakers worldwide. This approach, in which the camera holds it position for a relatively long period of time, meditatively capturing so a carefully composed image, has successfully challenged a key convention of cinema. In the documentary ‘I am So, So’, Krzysztof Kieslowski explains that the maximum length for a still shot should not exceed 15 seconds, so as to keep the viewer’s attention and to maintain the flow of a story, using the example of a sugar cube in a coffee cup from ‘Trois Couleurs: Bleu’. In striking contrast, Dumont captures much of his movies in still takes that are minutes long, the effect of which is a deeper engagement with the characters of a story and their surroundings, at a pace as realistic as life itself. A typical example of this is the opening sequence of ‘Hadewijch‘, where a church under restoration is held in a long view for several minutes, allowing the audience to explore the setting in audiovisual detail. Equally lengthy, static captures of Julie Sokolowski’s face elsewhere in the film facilitate a deeper understanding of her character and emotional state.Read more ›
Meanwhile this film, rather than write off Islamic extremists as nut-cases , actually explores their God vision in all seriousness through the eyes of a young catholic woman who is so ardent that it's the nuns who cast her from the convent with the advice to experience a slice of life first, which brings her to her senses by the end of the film.
She is picked up by a young moslem who decides since she is not a western wanton lay ( too full of Christ for that) maybe she can become a better bet or girl-friend if he can persuade her to convert. He introduces her into his community segregated in the Paris surburbs where her own extremism finds acceptance and out-let.
Moslems need not find this a distasteful film as it treats them with respect right up to the end without condoning violence. I'm an atheist for what it counts and turned off by humbug in cinema. Nevertheless I really enjoyed this film- it's as about vision as it is about religion.
The acting is of the type that you forget is acting. So excellent this film and I have been waiting and watching for its release on DVD for over a year since catching it on comcast.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I think without a doubt the worst film I have ever seen. Grindingly slow and utterly boring. Two hours of religious rubbish.Published 7 months ago by Arpee.
This French-language subtitled arthouse film is a stunner, although it's not particularly comfortable watching, nor does it set a particularly brisk pace. Read morePublished on 6 April 2012 by Rowena Hoseason