8 user 13 critic

Thérèse (1986)

The life of little St. Therese of Lisieux, depicted in minimalist vignettes. Therese and her sisters are all nuns in a Carmelite convent. Her devotion to Jesus and her concept of "the ... See full summary »



On Disc

at Amazon

9 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

St. Vincent de Paul struggles to bring about peace and harmony among the peasant and the nobles in the midst of the Black Death in Europe, carrying on his charitable work in the face of all obstacles.

Director: Maurice Cloche
Stars: Pierre Fresnay, Aimé Clariond, Jean Debucourt
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In 1944, an 18-year old boy from small-town France, collaborates with the Nazi-regime and subsequently falls in love with a Jewish girl.

Director: Louis Malle
Stars: Pierre Blaise, Aurore Clément, Holger Löwenadler
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

It's late 17th century. The viola da gamba player Monsieur de Sainte Colombe comes home to find that his wife died while he was away. In his grief he builds a small house in his garden into... See full summary »

Director: Alain Corneau
Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Anne Brochet
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Set during occupied France, a faithless woman finds herself falling in love with a young priest.

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Stars: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Emmanuelle Riva, Irène Tunc
Libera me (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Director: Alain Cavalier
Stars: Ange Andréani, Alexandra Arnould, Claude-Maurice Baille
Francesco (1989)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Docudrama about the life of St-Francis of Assisi

Director: Liliana Cavani
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Helena Bonham Carter, Andréa Ferréol
The Old Gun (1975)
Drama | Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In Montauban in 1944, Julien Dandieu in a surgeon in the local hospital. Frightened by the German army entering Montauban, he asks his friend Francois to drive his wife and his daughter in ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Enrico
Stars: Philippe Noiret, Romy Schneider, Jean Bouise
A Special Day (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two neighbors, a persecuted journalist and a resigned housewife, meet during Hitler's visit in Italy in May 1938.

Director: Ettore Scola
Stars: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, John Vernon
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A man walks a length of railroad track, looking for his elderly mother whom he believes fell from the train at some point. He brings his daughter along.

Director: Alain Cavalier
Stars: Jean Rochefort, Camille de Casabianca, Arlette Bonnard
Wise Blood (1979)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Southerner--young, poor, ambitious but uneducated--determines to become something in the world. He decides that the best way to do that is to become a preacher and start up his own church.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Brad Dourif, John Huston, Dan Shor
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 17th century Italy, a simple and clumsy young man joins a Franciscan order, pursues full priesthood and performs a miracle that eventually ensures his sainthood.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Maximilian Schell, Ricardo Montalban, Lea Padovani
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The mesmerizing story of a young girl's romance with God. Her faith, trials, and sacrifices reveal a way of life based on love and simplicity. A contemplative film based on the true story ... See full summary »

Director: Leonardo Defilippis
Stars: Lindsay Younce, Leonardo Defilippis, Patti Defillipis


Cast overview, first billed only:
Hélène Alexandridis ...
Aurore Prieto ...
Clémence Massart-Weit ...
Prioress (as Clémence Massart)
Sylvie Habault ...
Nathalie Bernart ...
Mona Heftre ...
Marie - une religiause (as Ghislaine Mona)
Beatrice De Vigan ...
Jean Pélégri ...
The father
Pierre Baillot
Pierre Maintigneux ...
Convent Doctor
Jean Pieuchot ...
The Bishop
Guy Faucon ...
Aimee's Fiancé
Armand Meppiel ...
The Pope
Joël Lefrançois ...
The Young Doctor


The life of little St. Therese of Lisieux, depicted in minimalist vignettes. Therese and her sisters are all nuns in a Carmelite convent. Her devotion to Jesus and her concept of "the little way" to God are shown clearly, using plain modern language. A sense of angelic simplicity comes across without fancy lights, choirs, or showy miracles. Written by Molly Malloy

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 December 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Thérèse  »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


Awards: Silver Hugo (Chicago Film Festival, 1986); and KRO Film Prijs (Rotterdam Film Festival, 1986). See more »


Version of Procès au Vatican (1952) See more »


Execepts from works by Jacques Offenbach and Gabriel Fauré
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Stark, raw, but incomplete
1 March 2015 | by See all my reviews

As an avid reader of St. Therese's writings myself, I thought I'd explore the available film portrayals about her life. This movie is quite literally a "screen play," quite obviously filmed on a soundstage with most of the scenes framed in front of gray backdrops. The colorless backgrounds cause one to focus more on the expressions and mannerisms of the characters, and also allow one to experience the richness of the sound (though many sound effects, such as that of a cat eating raw fish, are not exactly pleasing). In addition, the narrative basically stays true to the main events of Therese's life. Life in the convent was tough and exacting, and the stark manner in which it is portrayed gets that point across very effectively.

In spite of these strengths, the movie has its weaknesses and it does not (in my opinion) give a complete picture of Therese. One aspect of Therese that it does not do a good job of showing is her great intelligence, which really shines through when one reads her writings. Therese in this movie often seems to be a female counterpart of Gomer Pyle, a sort of dimwitted young Sister who smiles at the sufferings Jesus throws her way in much the same way that Gomer might smile after receiving a butt-chewing from Sgt. Carter. Her keen mental prowess is seen mainly in the first few scenes of the movie as she plots to save the souls of sinners and to gain entrance to the convent--once entering the convent, one gets the sense that Therese is nothing if not witless.

While portraying the mortification of the flesh that Therese practiced as a Carmelite (e.g. by wearing a cross close to her chest that had nails in the back of it), the movie does not show other important aspects of Therese's convent life that are less jarring but more important to understanding her philosophy. For example, one hardly sees Therese's "little way," the constant small sacrifices that she made for her Carmelite sisters on a daily basis that went largely unnoticed during her lifetime. The movie tends to dwell too much on those aspects of Carmelite tradition (and of Therese's life) that are more jarring to modern sensibilities and less on aspects of her life that might be perceived as more admirable. For example, one doesn't see that Therese was a prolific writer for her entire adult life (which she was, churning out enough letters, poems, prayers, and plays over nine years to fill several books--not to mention her autobiography). Therese was also a strong and exacting leader, put in charge of the novices for a few years toward the end of her life; in the movie she is portrayed as more of a servile follower.

The movie, while not overtly taking sides as to the veracity of Therese's faith, does seem to view the 19th century nunnery through a late 20th-century lens by portraying things that would not have been discussed if they ever had happened. For example, one nun seems to have (barely) repressed lesbian tendencies While another appears to be a man who has managed to pass as a sister. While titillating the imaginations of moviegoers by throwing in a bit of scandal, these anecdotes do little to help us understand who Therese really was.

Perhaps a 90-120 minute movie can never give total balance to any person, but the Therese that is portrayed in this movie is not the same sharp, tough-yet-sentimental figure whom I met in her writing. As a piece of cinematography, though, it does have its own strengths and should not be passed up solely because of the weaknesses I have outlined.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 8 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page