Saint Terese's story has already touched so many hearts through her autobiography and now there is an inspirational movie out that will reach to even more. I also have to mention the sets and costumes; the sets were based on photographs taken by terese's sister, Celene, and were exact right down to the cruxifix's and candles. Some of the costumes were actually 100 year old clothes from the period!
"Therese gives us hope. We live in a secular world, trapped by our materialistic frenzied lives; powerless to give up our comfortable homes, our ears or even cigarettes. Therese's message is that God wants to meet us right where we are and that we are not trapped. He is accessable to anyone who seeks Him. Therese exemplifies confidence in the mercy of God, Who loves us so much that He will do all the work, providing strength and perseverence for us to find true happiness."
Saint Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.
(Speaking of praying to saints, it is a common misunderstanding that Catholics worship the saints. Catholics honor saints - we thank God for the gifts He has given them and ask them to prey for us. It is like asking a friend to pray for you when you have a problem. The saints are simply friends in heaven; they are very close to God and know His will. Saint Therese has performed many miraclese from heaven, known because they are accompanied with the scent or gift of roses. She said herself, "I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth."
Two decades later, I converted to traditional Catholicism, and I came into closer contact with the Saint of Lisieux. One thing that struck me was browsing Pierre Descouvemont's Life of St Therese in picture, as it is filled with wonderful colour photographs of statues, pious images and other illustrations that make Cavalier's film look like some austere, black and white, Calvinistic reimagining of the Saint, and a betrayal of the real flavour of her Christianity.
Maybe this is what Leonardo Defilippis was reacting against when he made this film. Maybe he wanted to recontextualise Therese by spending more time describing her family life, and portraying her relationship with her mother, Blessed Marie-AzÃ (C)lie Martin, whom she lost at an early age, her sisters, and her father, Blessed Louis Martin (played by Defillipis himself.) Maybe he wanted to reinject the Catholic imagery into her life, and return to a more down-to-Earth Little Flower. If so, he succeeded in offering us a corrective to Cavalier's minimalistic, abstract vision.
Unfortunately, the film is rather amateurish. It suffers from the absence of a real cinematographer, from a bland, anecdotal script, from a rather uncharismatic lead (a twenty-year-old Lindsay Younce embarrassingly asked to play Therese in her early teens), from poor acting from a couple of supporting actresses, and from basic editing mistakes. The strong American accents also gave some inauthenticity to the dialogues, especially if you are French like me, and would like your Therese to remain French.
The soundtrack by Sr. Marie Therese Sokol, OCD, however, is very beautiful (the theme "Shower of Roses", uploaded on YouTube, is memorable) and whatever technical or artistic flaws the film may have, I never found it boring and will probably watch it again in the future. It was also nice to see Defillipis tackle a more ambitious subject, with a larger cast, and a bigger budget than the productions I was used to, such as "John of the Cross" and "The Passion According to Luke". I hope he will keep growing in his art, and offering us such inspiring movies.