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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
Having seen this movie for the first time when I was 15 or so, and having no idea what I was watching, I was in for some great viewing when I watched it again 20 years later.
The cast, needless to say, is stupendous. Jane Fonda, the late Anne Bancroft, and a fledgling Meg Tilly, back in a time when movies with just women actors were unheard of, especially dramas.
The plot of the movie orbits around a crime. In a convent, in the middle of a cold Canadian night, a scream in the darkness uncovers an unconscious Nun, Agnes(Meg Tilly), coverd in blood. After she is taken away the mother superior(Anne Bancroft) finds, to her horror, a dead baby in the waste paper basket in Agnes' cell.
Leary of sending a Nun to prison the Candian legal system assigns a psychiatrist (Jane Fonda) to Agnes to determine that Agnes is insane and to have her committed.
We soon find out, the Agnes, very young, innocent, and iggnorant of the ways of the world, had no idea that she was pregnant, how she became pregnant, or how anyone becomes pregnant. Agnes often is spoken to by someone she calls "the lady", as well as her dead mother. There are plot twists, and faith based happenings, and possible psychological explanations to things that happen in this movie to the point that would leave anyone guessing.
I believe this movie to be a hidden classic. The acting is superb, and seamless. The only thing I would question in this movie is the directors decision to make Jane Fonda's character (Dr. Martha Livingston) smoke so much. It is clear that Ms. Fonda did not smoke at the time, and she handles the cigarettes awkwardly at times.
Meg Tilly, however, is the light of this movie. She displays a John Malkovich ability to act seemingly crazy, but somehow not, at the same time.
Anne Bancroft, when is there ever anything to say about her, other then utter perfection.
The end of the movie leaves the watcher to make his or her own decision. Is Agnes insane? Or was she brutilized horribly by some man that managed to sneak into the convent. Why did the Mother Superior not tell everything she knew sooner? Truly a wonderful piece of film!
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