At first, Ambrosio shows pious rectitude in handing over an errant nun to her superiors, but soon he is tempted by a masked girl, Matilda (Déborah François), dressed as a monk, and a young woman, Antonia (Joséphine Japy), who is desperate for him to pray at the bedside of her sick mother, Elvira (Catherine Mouchet), whose own past hangs ominously in the air.
Director Dominik Moll is best known for ‘Harry, He’s Here to Help’ and ‘Lemming’, both good-looking modern psychological thrillers rooted in the real world. Though superficially different, his approach here is fairly similar – only the ‘real’ world of a medieval monk, especially this one, involves visions of heaven and hell with added flashbacks of carnal shenanigans. The whole thing could have been a lot camper in the hands of someone like Ken Russell in his heyday, and whether you miss such stylings will depend on your taste.
As it is, Moll plays it deadly straight but struggles to maintain interest in seemingly unrelated strands of his story or to make Ambrosio’s fall from grace as sinister and compelling as it should be. The photography and design are high points, with a night-time religious procession that is very freaky indeed.