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Critic Reviews for Hadewijch
You either go with Dumont's arrogant series of conundrums and paradoxes or - as I do - you see them as mere meaningless 'effects' with little rhyme and no reason.
Dumont, as if trying to make sure nobody wants to see his movie, named it after a female Flemish poet from the 13th century, but - please read the rest of this sentence - the movie is set in modern times.
Should delight Dumont's fans. For others, it will take a bit of getting used to. The effort will prove to be worthwhile.
It's a beautiful and mysterious work with a rhythm all its own.
With Hadewijch, [Dumont] endorses something like the Dardenne brothers' rugged, squalid secular humanism, offering the barrier-breaking embrace as vague alternative to Despair, Church, or Capital.
Audience Reviews for Hadewijch
Kicked out of a convent for being too pious (a nun describes her as being a "caricature of religion"), Sokolowski returns to Paris where she is manipulated into carrying out a subway bombing by a group of muslim men. In recent times, French cinema has split into two distinct camps; lavish, beautifully shot tourist board movies set in the rolling hills of the wine valleys, and gritty pieces which utilise the grim urban landscape of the north. Dumont exists somewhere in between, tackling ugly subject matter yet shooting it in a stunningly colourful fashion. In contrast to this visual professionalism is his casting of non-actors, imagine Ken Loach meets Kubrick. There's a shot in this film that sums Dumont up, set in a tower-block apartment in a rundown Parisian suburb. The view of Paris from this point is one which would be the envy of the middle and upper classes residing in the city below. All this visual splendor can't hide the ugliness of Dumont's intent. By claiming to attack religion he has made the most lavish party political broadcast the French National Front could ever dream of. I'm all for having a go at religion but when you target a minority faith it's just plain bullying. The idea that a bunch of Muslims would go out of their way to corrupt a Catholic girl is just too hard to swallow. Dumont is preying on middle-class Christian paranoia because he knows if the protagonist were a young Islamic girl mainstream audiences wouldn't be interested. It's a French take on how Hollywood treats minorities. Ever notice how any movies about the black struggle are always from the point of view of whites? Almost a half century later and we haven't had a Martin Luther King movie, heaven forbid Hollywood would show blacks actually achieving something on their own. Likewise the only major production about the holocaust is about a Gentile saving Jewish lives. It's ironic that in a film about a young girl being exploited by men, Dumont has his lead perform a ridiculously gratuitous nude scene. Perhaps this is why he casts amateurs? This is a very technically accomplished movie and Sokolowski is a revelation in her debut but the sheer bigotry made it hard for me to appreciate.
In "Hadewijch," Celine(Julie Sokolowski) is a devout young woman studying to be a nun at a convent. Her belief is so strong, she refuses to eat or wear weather appropriate clothing in order to become a martyr. While she may be happy, her course of action is freaking out her superiors. So, they send her back to her life of privilege in Paris until she gets her head straightened out. While there, she hangs out with Yassine(Yassine Salime) at a concert but refutes his advances because she wants to remain pure. That's no reason why they cannot remain friends as he introduces her to his brother Nassir(Karl Sarafidis) who invites her to his prayer group. I have written before about how Bruno Dumont's films have gotten progressively violent. With his latest, the thought provoking "Hadewijch," he reverses course somewhat by clamping down on the violence while actually having something to say on the subject of violence, as he tries to separate behavior that is reckless from something more purposeful. The film moves in a matter of fact way until its climax where it pulls away so as to leave the matter of Celine's culpability up to debate. Regardless, she is a fanatic at the very least while her specific creed is less important.(In his memoir "I'd Hate Myself in the Morning," Ring Lardner Jr. identified Christianity and Islam as two proselytizing religions.) While she may have chosen her faith, nobody gets to pick their savior.
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