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
Anne Pitoniak, who portrays Jane Fonda's mother, played Mother Superior Miriam Ruth in the original production of the source play when it was first produced at Actors' Theatre of Louisville in March 1980. See more »
During the most profound scene where Agnes receives the stigmata, the audio boom is visible for at least five seconds. See more »
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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