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Sister Smile (2001)

Suor Sorriso (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | October 2003 (Italy)
Back in late 1963, a Belgian nun known only as Soeur Sourire, or Sister Smile, topped America's pop music charts with the relentlessly cheerful tune "Dominique," from an album of 12 songs ... See full summary »

Director:

Roger Deutsch
Reviews
2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ginevra Colonna Ginevra Colonna ... Janine
Antonio Salines Antonio Salines ... Vitale
Simona Caparrini ... Clara
Francesca Bianco Francesca Bianco ... Mother Superior
Stefania Bonafede Stefania Bonafede ... Claudia
Ana Valeria Dini Ana Valeria Dini ... Elsa
Fabrizio Bordignon Fabrizio Bordignon
Vanessa Compagnucci Vanessa Compagnucci
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alberto Buccolini Alberto Buccolini ... Dealer
Rosa Castro André Rosa Castro André
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Storyline

Back in late 1963, a Belgian nun known only as Soeur Sourire, or Sister Smile, topped America's pop music charts with the relentlessly cheerful tune "Dominique," from an album of 12 songs that sold 1.5 million copies. From the little that is known of the ill-fated nun's life, Italy-based American writer-director Roger Deutsch has made the boldly speculative yet persuasive Italian-language film "Suor Sorriso" in which the nun (Ginevra Colonna) emerges as a tormented, unstable woman who abruptly left the convent after her recording triumph before taking her final vows. Running a shelter for wayward girls, she and another ex-nun (Simona Caparrini) enter a passionate, tumultuous and destructive affair. Colonna's volcanic Deckers craves spiritual redemption as well as the other woman's love but is so beset by demons that she embarks on a flamboyant, drug-fueled downward spiral that ultimately engulfs her lover as well as herself. This is the same woman portrayed by Debbie Reynolds in the ... Written by Kevin Thomas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

Italy

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

October 2003 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Sister Smile See more »

Filming Locations:

Rome, Lazio, Italy

Company Credits

Production Co:

Malika, Neofilm See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Trippy
13 August 2016 | by rooprectSee all my reviews

Before we go any further, note that this is the 2001 Italian film "Suor Sorriso", not the 2009 Belgian/French "Soeur Sourire", both sold in the USA under the name "Sister Smile".

The first thing you'll notice upon popping this in your DVD player is the lousy quality. I believe it was shot on 8mm film, and there was no real effort to remaster it for digital release. It bears the look of an old, archival film from the 60s.

Also note that the only other IMDb review currently on this page was written in 2002 by someone who hasn't reviewed any other films, prompting me to believe that it is either the director himself, a friend or family member, or someone who loved this movie so much that he spontaneously exploded and never saw another film.

Wow, if you made it past the first 3 paragraphs of this review, then cool. Let's dig into this thing, shall we? "Suor Sorriso" is a biopic about the life of the Belgian singing nun Jeannine Deckers, a one-hit-wonder from the 60s who wrote and sang "Dominique". Don't be fooled by the fact that she was a nun; she apparently led a bizarre life as sordid as Jim Morrison or any rockstar from the 60s. Sex, drugs, heresy, lesbianism (which was scandalous at the time) and all that stuff. But this film doesn't really pander to those themes. Most of the sordid details are grazed over, hinted at, or shown in a surrealistic way that diffuses the disturbing nature.

It is that "surrealistic way" which is, I think, the greatest part of this movie. What the film lacks in glossiness and polish is made up for with creative and stylistic jumps into a minimalist fantasy world. For example, one of my favorite scenes is the recounting of Jeanne's childhood which is shown with just 2 actors on a dark stage, lit by a single spotlight.

The film jumps back & forth between realism and this sort of fantasy world, and that's what made it really interesting to watch. But I can imagine it might be disorienting or annoying to people who don't go for that sort of thing. Other films with a similar style include Svankmajer's "Lesson Faust" (which jumps between realism and puppetry), Orson Welles' "Macbeth" (which jumps between Shakespearean drama and a clay figure) and the awesome 80s comedy "Better Off Dead" which jumps between John Cusack's high school hijinks and animation/claymation of dancing hamburgers singing Van Halen.

In other words, this is trippy.

I'm not sure if it is the substandard quality video or maybe a lack of explosive drama, as one would expect from a story such as this, that made me feel lukewarm toward the movie, but I have to admit if I didn't know anything about the story beforehand I probably would've flipped the channel. At times the film seems a bit too esoteric and unengaging. But if you're interested in the story of Jeannine Deckers and how it comes to a grand climax, it's worth watching until the end.


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