Sunday, July 29, 2007
AGNES OF GOD
AGNES OF GOD (1985, USA, Norman Jewison, John Pielmeier play and screenplay)
I know what you want from me, you want to take God away. You should be ashamed. They should lock you up people like you.
A young nun stands accused of a terrible crime: a newborn baby has been found strangled in her convent cell. It seems improbable that she could be the child’s mother, impossible that she could be a killer. So innocent as to seem angelic, Agnes is torn between two powerful, impassioned women – the Mother Superior who fights to protect the girl’s fragile spirit, and the court-appointed psychiatrist, fiercely atheist, who is determined to heal her shattered mind.
Pielmeier’s compelling drama originated as a celebrated stage play, the claustrophobic study of three women isolated together on a bare and tiny stage. Jewison diminishes the story by naturalizing it and expanding it for the screen: the sense of compression and intensity are mostly lost, and what was an excruciating inquiry into the human soul and spirit becomes a drably melodramatic not-quite-horror story. Such a pity.
Still, the film may mostly suffer in comparison with the play. The Tony-winning playwright did his own screenplay adaptation, and keeps intact the carefully constructed series of revelations that slowly illuminate events that have shaped each of these three women and their fiercely-held faiths – whether in God, science or the Church. He carefully charts their traumatic movement through suffering, doubt and faith, probing the elusive boundaries between sanity and sanctity.
Available at Videomatica