A short boat trip from Venice, the island monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore is the imposing location for this spiritual drama, in which arrival Andrea (Christo Jivkov) settles in to the discipline of study and contemplation in the hope of finding new meaning in his life. As the stern Father Superior (Andrea Hennicke) soon makes clear however, the path to inner peace involves a regime of aggressive group questioning and an aura of rivalry and suspicion amplified by the spooky oppressiveness of the huge edifice’s echoing corridors. With its emphasis on the austerity of routine, and its frequent visual reminders of Venice out of reach across the water, this atmospheric affair resembles a bizarre combination of ‘Into Great Silence’ and ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ yet never manages to turn its ascetic soul-searching into an accessible dilemma. Those undergoing some similar Catholic ferment might tune into its wavelength, otherwise it’s a film to be admired from without, though swathes of choral music (an ill-advised Viscontian foray into Mahler excepted) convey a haunting, sepulchral vibe.
Cast and crew
Fausto Russo Alesi