We’re in a convent and the girl isn’t eating. Matyring herself. As a manifestation of His love. She needs to be pushed out. “It isn’t necessary to be detached from the world in order to be with God” says nun (who is living a life of detached from the world in order to be with God)
A 73 second single take single position shot of girl – Celine – praying to crucifix in her cold winter bedroom. This is a film that is going to have to be waited with as much as watched. The patience of a saint may be required.
Celine is sent home. An ambassadorial home. Celine is so sweet, so naive, so innocent, so not of this world. She is going to make me like this film. Here she is intently listening to Bach’s Aria “Gebt mir meinen Jesum wieder” from St. Matthew Passion in a church. They could be playing just to fill her face with an inner radiance.
That meant far more to her than it meant to you. Or me. Her obsessive need for God looks transcendent.
You feel some actresses might only be able to act one role. And this is Julie Sokolowski’s one role, her one film (she’s hardly acted since) She doesn’t act as an actress. She inhabits Celine as Julie Sokolowski; with pasty faced wanness, her body angled in awkwardness. A genuine ingenue charm about her that captivates me into empathy. Here is more of her charming the pants off young muslim boy Yassine. But he fails to charm the pants off her.
Our empathy for Celine needs to feel strong and sustain because she sleep walks into a world as God-Bothery-Obssessed as her own; Islamic fanatical fundamentalism. Her spiritual journey becomes compromised and contaminated by their radical jihadism.
How does God manifest? He doesn’t appear by staying still and suffering but from action in the world. God is truth and justice. Thats what her muslim provocateur is rattling her muffy head with.
And as she wants to get closer to God, she’ll act in any way deemed to necessary to bring Him near. She’ll blow up innocent people (because letting off a bomb is bound to wake God up, and make him present?!) (pretty weak this transformation she does into jihadist. I don’t buy it. Maybe because I don’t want to believe it)
I guess this is what gives the film spot on relevance given all the recruitment of young people to fanatical forms of Islam that currently populate, and violate, our TV screens.
“Woe is me to be a human being” says Celine. And I’m believing, that for her, it is.
I haven’t understood the deliberately obscure ending. But I don’t mind that I can’t reason it out. The feeling is that some kind of miraculous grace has saved her from the error of self-sacrifice (in the form of a con on parole in a nunnery acting as a lifesaver)
I feel prodded and provoked and made uncomfortable by this film. Which is probably what Bruno Dumont wanted me to feel. His films seem to act like provocations, that never leave you alone, that unsettle and uncomfort you. That make bombs in your head.
Dir: Bruno Dumont, France