Fourteen-year-old Maria is a fundamentalist Catholic, living her life in a modern fashion, yet her heart belongs to Jesus. She wants to be a saint and go to heaven. No one, not even a nice b... Read allFourteen-year-old Maria is a fundamentalist Catholic, living her life in a modern fashion, yet her heart belongs to Jesus. She wants to be a saint and go to heaven. No one, not even a nice boy she meets, can stop her in this goal.Fourteen-year-old Maria is a fundamentalist Catholic, living her life in a modern fashion, yet her heart belongs to Jesus. She wants to be a saint and go to heaven. No one, not even a nice boy she meets, can stop her in this goal.
Couple of comments: first, the movie is highly stylish, and for an unusual reason: the movie is brought in 14 chapters, paralleling the 14 stations of the cross that Jesus encounters in his final days and hours. Each of these 14 scenes is brought in a single take, and all but two chapters (late in the film) are filmed with a fixed camera angle. Sitting through the first chapter (with the 6 kids getting Confirmation class), I had no idea whether this movie was going to appeal to me. Literally nothing happens. Then the next chapter comes, and the one after that, and slowly you start to realize that you are watching a harrowing family drama set in a highly conservative Catholic family where any sign of modernism is loathed. The Second Vatican Council reforms are flat-out rebuked, and instead 'old style' Cathlolicism is sought at every step in life. Meanwhile young Maria is trying to find her one path, all the while trying to get her stern mom's love and approval. As it happens, I grew up in an all-out Catholic environment in Belgium in the 60s and 70s. A number of scenes in the movie brought back memories I hadn't thought of in YEARS (such as when I had my Confirmation in 1972). The film features a towering and heartbreaking performance from Lea van Acken as the young Maria, leaving you to shake your head in disbelief, and let's not forget Franziska Weisz as Maria's mom, playing about as unlikeable a character as I've seen in a long time. Kudos to director and co-writer Dietrich Brüggemann for bringing us this highly original, if tense, family drama. I wish we'd get more movies of this caliber more often.
"Stations of the Cross" was released in the US by the good folks at Film Movement, which over the years has released a tons of great foreign and indie movies that otherwise would never have seen the light of day in the US. As usual, the DVD comes with a bonus shortie, and this time it's an 11 min. film from Germany called "One Shot" which director Dietrich Brüggemann made to great acclaim before he had a chance to make "Stations of the Cross". Definitely worthwhile checking out as well. Meanwhile, "Stations of the Cross" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
- Dec 14, 2015