6.6/10
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45 user 26 critic

Agnes of God (1985)

When a naive novice nun is discovered with a dead newborn in her convent quarters, a court-appointed psychiatrist investigates her case.

Director:

Norman Jewison

Writers:

John Pielmeier (screenplay), John Pielmeier (play)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jane Fonda ... Doctor Martha Livingston
Anne Bancroft ... Mother Miriam Ruth
Meg Tilly ... Sister Agnes
Anne Pitoniak Anne Pitoniak ... Dr. Livingston's Mother
Winston Rekert Winston Rekert ... Detective Langevin
Gratien Gélinas ... Father Martineau
Guy Hoffmann Guy Hoffmann ... Justice Joseph Leveau (as Guy Hoffman)
Gabriel Arcand ... Monsignor
Françoise Faucher ... Eve LeClaire
Jacques Tourangeau ... Eugène Lyon
Janine Fluet ... Sister Marguerite
Deborah Grover Deborah Grover ... Sister Anne
Michele George Michele George ... Sister Susanna
Samantha Langevin ... Sister Jeannine
Jacqueline Blais Jacqueline Blais ... Sister David Marie
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Storyline

When a dead newborn is found, wrapped in bloody sheets, in the bedroom wastebasket of a young novitiate, psychiatrist Martha Livingston is called in to determine if the seemingly innocent novice, who knows nothing of sex or birth, is competent enough to stand trial for the murder of the baby. While searching for the answer that her supervisors want, Dr. Livingston finds herself inevitably drawn into searching for the truth about the baby's conception and death. Despite the lack of cooperation that she receives from her own organization and the church itself, she eventually discovers more than she may have bargained for. Written by brado.3

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What unspeakable crime took place behind the third floor window? Only Agnes knows. And Dr. Martha Livingston is the one person who can unravel the mystery. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Latin

Release Date:

27 September 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Agnes de Dios See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$220,642, 15 September 1985, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$25,627,836, 31 December 1985
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actress Jane Fonda had to adjust to playing a character with a somewhat unpleasant preoccupation: chain smoking. "In order not to have to smoke tobacco," recalled Fonda, "I went through a range of cigarettes that don't have tobacco in them, one worse than the other. Finally, I found one that was only mildly disgusting. It smells bad and burns the mouth, but it could be worse." See more »

Goofs

During the most profound scene where Agnes receives the stigmata, the audio boom is visible for at least five seconds. See more »

Quotes

Doctor Martha Livingston: Who did this to you? Who?
Sister Agnes: God! It was God... and now I'll burn in Hell because I hate him.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Directors: The Films of Norman Jewison (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Absorbing film
7 August 2006 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

After a nun gives birth, the baby is found strangled in a wastepaper basket. A psychiatrist is brought in to judge the woman's sanity. The film is "Agnes of God," based on the successful Broadway play and inspired by an incident that occurred in my home town of Rochester, New York. It unites three powerful actresses - Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, and Meg Tilly in this intriguing story of belief, truth, and perception.

Fonda is the psychiatrist who comes to the idyllic, French Canadian convent setting and first meets the mother superior (Bancroft), a nun with a few secrets, who is opposed to having Agnes, the young woman who had the baby, questioned. Agnes is a pure, childlike girl who hears voices, talks to spirits, doesn't know how babies are born, and claims she never had one. Is she delusional as the result of abuse as a child? Was she raped? Is she insane? The performances in "Agnes of God" are extraordinary. Fonda is brilliant as a woman of science who has long ago turned her back on God, and Meg Tilly gives a breakout performance as the translucent, innocent Agnes. The dramatic scene which ends with Fonda saying, "I love you...As much as God loves you" was one of the most moving in the film.

The powerhouse role, played on stage by Geraldine Page, is that of the mother superior, and what better actress for this than the fantastic Anne Bancroft. She is tough, vulnerable, funny, fierce and warm as a woman trying to protect her delicate charge from the horrors of the world. She and Fonda play beautifully together, whether bonding or fighting, as Fonda strips away the layers to find the truth.

It's so rare to see a film with three great female roles, and to see them all essayed so well in an excellent story. For this reason, Agnes of God is a great, provocative film that will keep you thinking about it long after it's over.


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