Hadewijch (Sokolowski) strikes you as one of those cool, college-age loners, padding around her parents' Paris flat with a white dog nipping at her heels. She was recently asked to leave the convent due to a penchant for religious intensity that scared even the nuns; again, chalk it up to growing pains and "finding oneself." No biggie. Reverting back to her first name, virginal Cline takes up with a cute Arab (Salime), then an even cuter one (Sarafidis) with a touch of a temper. That's all that can fairly be said about the unusual Hadewijch, lest the transformation brewing be spoiled for you---and it's too supercharged to ruin.
Director Bruno Dumont (Twentynine Palms) has a rep for mustering unearned shocks, some of them involving sexual violence. So take it as a massive act of maturity that his latest, set in a bustling, vulnerable city, is both timely and self-critical in a way he'd never before explored. Fervor, he's suggesting, starts from within and takes root. That's not an especially controversial idea, perhaps the same one as in last year's The Blind Side. But there's a darker, fanatical side to blindness too---and this is the movie to show it. Leave all judgments behind.