Directed and co-written by Guillaume Nicioux from the adaptation of an anti-clerical novel written by Denis Diderot which was intended as a practical joke ‘a compilation of letters he sent to a devout fiend in the guise of a desperate nun looking to leave the sisterhood’.
The story is set in 1760's France and reveals the dehumanising effect of cloistered life on a young girl. The young girl in question is the daughter of a once rich bourgeois family; her mother (German actress Martina Gedeck) admits that Suzanne is illegitimate. Because of the family's financial problems and her mother's deep feeling of guilt Suzanne Simonin (Pauline Etienne) is committed to a nunnery, very much against her will. When the kindly but manipulating Mother Superior Madame de Moni (Francoise Lebrun) dies the replacement turns out to be sadistic and cruel, compelling Suzanne to becomes ever more rebellious and strongly resisting the rules of the convent. Sister Christine (Louise Bourgoin) inflicts the worst forms of humiliation making her wear a hair shirt, administering beatings and depriving her of food and clothing. After complaining about her treatment Suzanne is transferred to another convent, where she discovers another kind of Mother Superior (the award winning Isabelle Huppert) one who tries to instigate an inappropriate affection towards her charge.
The Nun (2013) tells the story of a young woman trying to resist imposed religious values, revealing, as I have said, the dehumanising effect of a cloistered life. The highlight of this female led period drama is the scene steeling, over the top performance from Ms Huppert who demands more than faith from our pretty heroine? The film attempts to deal with not only the fanaticism and power of the Catholic Church but also the restricting class structures of 18 century France. It premiered in competition at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival and won a Best Actress Award for Pauline Etienne.
|Mother Superior forces her attentions!|