finally getting round to posting some 2009 fest film reviews.
bruno dumont, who’s life of jesus i watched when first falling in love with cinema over a decade ago in london, has twice won the grand prix at cannes (the only other director to do so is tarkovsky), presented hadewijch at the new york film festival cutely inviting the incredible julie sokolowski on stage with him.
sokolowski (who dumont found at one one of his film’s screenings) plays celine, a young, utterly devout christian who is forced out of a convent by nuns worried about her extreme faith who feel she needs to reconnect with the outside world. to celine, god is love. a love dangerously pure and extreme.
a love so idealized struggles outside the confines of the convent in the ‘real world’ she finds herself in.
the abstract nature of love, particularly godly love translates to a vein, endless search for its reality. it’s always there and yet never there.
celine falls in with a moslem kid from the banlieue and is increasingly attracted to his older brother’s fundamentalist interpretations of islam and god. in particular the islamic godly concept of gheiba- invisible. absence resonates with her quest.
an increasingly fantastical narrative that see celine drawn deeper and deeper into an extreme islamic world in which violence is celebrated as a natural and virtuous trait and results in an act of terrorism leads to a rebirth of sorts.
the initial pure, godly love is reborn as a powerful worldly love albeit through blood, violence and terror.
hadewijch is a beautiful and scary essay on absolute love and faith.
one of my favorite movies of 2009.
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