Thérèse Martin achieved sainthood by doing very little. Along with her three sisters, she entered the Carmel convent in Lisieux at the end of the 19th century, and after contending with the appalling privations of the order, the death of her father, and a bout of tuberculosis for which she was allowed no medical attention, she died in her early twenties. Goodness which is not active does not sound like the most promising of cinematic subjects, but in the scrupulous hands of Alain Cavalier, one is virtually forced to reassess just what is meant by cinematic. Filmed against the barest of grey walls, convent life is mapped out in a series of tableaux in which drama resides in the minute shifts of the human face and the odd telling gesture. Catherine Mouchet as Thérèse achieves that most difficult task of embodying goodness without being dull; her face glows with the innocent beauty of a medieval icon. Bresson is always a dangerous name to invoke for comparison; but while Thérèse lacks the master's taste for complexity and the paradoxes of the Catholic faith, the film's purity and simplicity nevertheless qualify it as another great enquiry into the operation of divine grace in our daily lives. CPea.
Cast and crew