La religieuse (The Nun)

Critics Consensus

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84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 19

81%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 445
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Movie Info

This critically acclaimed moral drama is taken from a book written in 1760 by Denis Diderot. Suzanne (Anna Karina) is an intelligent, freedom-loving woman who is forced into a convent against her will. The fact that she was sired by a man who is not her mother's husband -- and that a suitable dowry cannot be paid for her -- bring her to the church. Suzanne endures continual harassment from one Mother Superior (Micheline Presle). Transferred to a different convent, she becomes subject to lesbian leanings from another Mother Superior (Liselotte Pulver), who flees with a priest (Francisco Rabal) who says he too was forced into a life of religion. The controversial subject matter caused the feature to be banned for two years, despite assurances to director Jacques Rivette by censors. The subsequent ban helped the film (shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1966) gain more recognition. Rivette's cynical references to Catholicism as the ultimate theater enraged the Catholic Film Office, the agency that spearheaded the opposition to the film. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

Cast

Anna Karina
as Suzanne Simonin
Liselotte Pulver
as Mme. de Chelles
Micheline Presle
as Mme. de Moni
Francine Bergé
as Sister St. Christine
Francisco Rabal
as Dom Morel
Yori Bertin
as Sister St. Therese
Catherine Diamant
as Sister St. Cecile
Christiane Lénier
as Mme. Simonin
Wolfgang Reichmann
as Father Lemoine
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Critic Reviews for La religieuse (The Nun)

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for La religieuse (The Nun)

  • Jul 29, 2014
    The wife of the Nouvelle Vague, Anna Karina, stars in Rivette's controversial machine gun against the bestialities of religious fundamentalisms. <i>La Religieuse</i>, which is itself a more proper movie title to be maintained rather than its international and less exact translation "The Nun", is a purely freely artistic film adaptation of Denis Diderot's novel of 1760. It tells the tragic story of Suzanne Simonin, played by Anna Karina, a woman who was forced against her will to take vows as a nun. Her justified rebellion and lack of faith, both derived from her frustration and solitude, is taken as Satanic behavior in the convent where she lives. Moving from convent to convent, she will be subject to inhuman treatments, blindly dismissive accusations and even lesbian learnings from each Mother Superior she treats, while simultaneously facing the ultimately repulsive and hypocritical behavior that pervades in such sadistic religious communities even today. The Catholic Film Office was enraged by the accusations made by Rivette through this film, which was banned for two years by the censors, which of course helped the film to receive an even more notorious status and be screened at Cannes. The irony is found in the fact that the film literally opens with an explicit disclaimer stating that nothing is supposed to be taken as a representation that totalizes the lifestyle of the 18th Century, nor taken as a generalized representation of the Catholic Church. Which is TRUE. So who was the responsible for its ban? The Catholic Film Office, of course *coughs*. Maybe nothing hurts more than the truth... I am personally baffled that, given the conservatism of the era (which is lived even today with approximately the same intensity given the status of the Catholic Church as an "institution" on par with some national governments), the film wasn't banned, well, forever, if not for a whole decade. Here's why. Cinema today, more importantly Europe, and even more specifically Spain, France, Ireland and the U.K., releases furious statements of international distribution every time that they treat a story that takes place in a convent. Perhaps the best example is <i>The Magdalene Sisters</i> (2002). <i>La Religieuse</i> is an important cinematic predecessor, as I am concerned, preceding even the religious condemnations that exploded during the 70s in the sensuous and exploitative form of nunsploitation. What remains most shocking about Rivette's adaptation is that it doesn't really condemn anything. On the contrary, it presents a series of events in the perfectly known art of dramatization that characterizes cinema remaining neutral, as an observer. It even takes the bold step of showing the sexual mysery in which the nuns live, fantasizing better lives outside of their vows and experimenting among themselves. And the Catholic Church is not particularly fond of homosexuality, either. A film thematically ahead of its time and that presented a known topic in a different fashion and with some scandalous subject matter, <b>including a priest that also confesses that he was forced onto his profession</b>, Rivette's film is gorgeous to look at, with a powerhouse performance by the diva of the French New Wave, who proved everybody to be one actress of the highest order. The film's ending statement is the most important for all, and marvelously summarizes the problems with religious institutions today: organizations driven by people without the aid of God inflicts harm on others and equals lunacy. 87/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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