This is a German film about a young German Catholic girl on the eve of her confirmation, and I was drawn to it because of all the stuff I’ve been reading on the Reformation, so wanted to see something on modern Catholicism.
Maria’s family are very extreme believers, and as she takes on more of their beliefs, her place in the wider world becomes increasingly difficult. She meets a boy who invites her to attend choir, but as they sometimes sing the devil’s music she is banned from going. She refuses to join in sport at school as they have to run round to pop music, so she starts getting bullied, and… all this is cut into scenes described as the stations of the cross, ie with Jesus on his way to death on the cross.
It is beautifully shot, all in black and white, and each scene is done in a single take, the acting wonderfully natural, reminding me at times of Richard Linklater’s recent film, Boyhood. I thought it was brilliant how it showed Maria’s family together, her in confession, and how her decision to make the ultimate sacrifice was dealt with by her doctor, her friend the family au pair, challenging where the lines are drawn, between parental love and responsibility for her physical and spiritual life.
Yes, it is a very bleak film, but also challenging. Maria thought she was sacrificing her life to help her mute younger brother. Her mother becomes excited at the thought that her daughter has been responsible for a verifiable miracle. Which makes her proud, and yet…. even she has to question whether it was worth it.
An amazing film, but not for the faint hearted.