In this suitably austere German drama, a teenage girl pursues the ideals of Christian self-sacrifice to terrifying extremes under the spell of conservative Catholic parents and a hardline branch of the church. As a fresh-faced priest (Florian Stetter) delivers smiling indoctrination to 14-year-old Maria (Lea van Acken) and her confirmation classmates, it’s clear that this demanding pathway to spiritual salvation is entirely at odds with the modern world and normal teenage emotions and desires. But Maria is determined to hold firm to her devotions.
Over 14 intense single-shot scenes (each titled after a station of the cross on Christ’s walk to Calvary), an appalling logic of willful self-denial unfolds: no food, no impure thoughts, no soul music, etc. The film showcases Van Acken’s remarkable central performance, distinctly agonizing, and director Brüggemann’s adept control of a deliberately rigorous aesthetic.
For all the fine craftsmanship on display, however, it’s still possible to feel that the story’s extreme behavior merely prompts some rather obvious point-making about those yet to discover liberalism. Is the film’s implicit certitude not so far removed from the dogma it’s trying to expose?
|Release date:||Friday July 10 2015|
Cast and crew