We’re here to start a little chat about the project which had “a potential winner of Berlinale” written all over it but as we know now, the movie is not among winners.
Guillaume Nicloux‘s latest movie, simply titled The Nun premiered in competition at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival. Nicloux’s movie is based on Denis Diderot’s classic novel which tells the story of a woman trying to resist imposed religious values, revealing the dehumanizing effect of cloistered life.
It follows the rebellion and tragic fate of Suzanne Simonin, a charming young woman from a bourgeois family who is cloistered away in a convent against her will after discovering she is an illegitimate child.
Set in France, in the 1760s, the movie stars Pauline Etienne as Suzanne, a beautiful young girl with a natural talent for music. Despite her faith, she is dismayed when her parents send her off to a convent, expecting her to become a nun. Suzanne first resists the rules of the convent, but soon finds out that she is an illegitimate child, leaving her no other option than to pronounce her vows and suffer the consequences of her mother’s sin.
She soon wants to escape the religious path and is trying to revoke her vows when the Mother Superior, who had brought her comfort and solace, dies. Her successor, Sister Christine, played by Louise Bourgoin, turns out to be a sadistic and cruel Mother Superior, inflicting the worst forms of humiliation upon Suzanne, such as depriving her of food and clothing.
Suzanne is finally transferred to another convent, where she discovers another kind of Mother Superior, played by Isabelle Huppert, who develops an inappropriate affectionate bond with her…
Controversial story and controversial characters, indeed. Especially Isabelle Huppert’s lesbian nun – Supérieure Saint Eutrope. And although she’s not the film’s titular nun, Huppert revealed that she actually liked the character she had to portray. Here’s what she said about her role at the film’s press conference:
“I like the character I had to portray. It’s the kind of character you have to sort of take out of the caricature and go beyond certain images that you have with such behaviour and such a character. And actually, the way the script was written and the way Guillaume directed it made it very easy to go beyond the caricature.”
She also added: “What she feels for this young girl makes her very human and God is very far from her in that moment. It was all very simple, in a way. And very natural. So I didn’t really ask myself what I was going to do and what I should do. It was something easy. And not very scandalous, actually. It was so natural. But maybe that’s the scandal. Feeling so natural, there was nothing you can do.”
Beside Pauline Etienne, Isabelle Huppert and Louise Bourgoin, the rest of The Nun cast also includes Martina Gedeck, Agathe Bonitzer, François Négret, Gilles Cohen and Marc Barbé.
Let us know what you think about the trailer, and stay tuned for more updates!