Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
Original title: La Religieuse
France, 1966. Rome Paris Films, Societe Nouvelle de Cinematographie. Screenplay by Jean Gruault, Jacques Rivette, based on the novel by Denis Diderot. Cinematography by Alain Levent. Produced by Georges de Beauregard. Music by Jean-Claude Eloy. Production Design by Jean-Jacques Fabre, Guy Littaye. Costume Design by Gitt Magrini. Film Editing by Denise de Casabianca. Cannes Film Festival 1966.
Anna Karina is superb in this adaptation of Diderot’s novel, as a young woman who is forced by her family’s impoverished circumstances to enter the nunnery. Her first Mother Superior shows her so much affection that she grows to love her life in the convent, but after that kind woman’s death Karina is forced to face the fact that she has no vocation and desires a life of freedom. From there occur a series of experiences, some harrowing and some bizarre, in which she fights for a better life that, in 17th century France, she doesn’t realize isn’t available to a woman (particularly one with no marriage prospects). The masterful Jacques Rivette adapts the novel into a long but captivating and steady narrative, punctuated by exceptional performances and a haunting atmosphere.