Bemberg's dramatisation of the life of Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz, the 17th century Mexican writer, moves from an austere series of tableaux to a charged atmosphere of repression and calculating ambition. Flashbacks reveal Sister Juana's fatherless, impoverished and intellectually precocious childhood, and there's a suggestion that her decision to enter the convent was a tactical manoeuvre enabling her to pursue her studies and writing. When the archbishop later conspires to stop her work, she becomes embroiled in a counterplot to undermine his authority, with disastrous results. Serna's intense performance in the lead role is never allowed to dominate a plot built around internecine conflict, shifting loyalties, betrayals and individual acts of courage. The drama is progressively unsettling, particularly as the spiritual malaise becomes manifest in the horrific ravages of the plague.