I’m trying to tie up a few loose ends before heading out for vacation and a break so here is a brief post covering some good entertainment.
This French film takes place in Warsaw in the aftermath of WWII and is based on a true story. A young female French Red Cross doctor attending French POWS (Mathilde) is called to a convent where several nuns are pregnant after having been raped by Russian soldiers. Mathilde continues to go to the convent secretly to provide ongoing prenatal care because she can’t walk away from the nuns who have only her to help. She faces opposition from some of the nuns who are so shamed they don’t even want her to examine them as well as the Mother Superior (who you may remember from Ida). The nun is not only trying to deal with the shame but syphilis and fear for how the nunnery will fare in the communist environment. Her actions, however, are horrific.
Mathilde develops a respect for the life of the nuns and the role of faith in desperate situations despite the fact that her parents are communists and she is not religious. She works closely with one of the nuns who is more secular to help deliver the babies. The story is dark with an encouraging end, which I suspect is happier than the true story. The actress who plays Mathilde is able to carry the film despite being on screen virtually the entire time. The film is complex and nuanced and provides a very different plot then we have seen in WWII movies.
The cinematography is excellent as most of the outdoor scenes are grey with snow and dark trees. The bleakness of these scenes is artfully contrasted with the black and white habits of the nuns. It’s really quite beautiful. The film is very good and I’ll be interested to see if it makes it to the finals of Oscar’s Best Foreign Film category – it certainly should be in contention.
Thirteen (BBC America)
The BBC series finished up this past week and it was a satisfying end to what was a pretty good show. Ivy, as you may recall from a previous post, was kidnapped at age 13 for 13 years when she escaped. For several episodes, we witness Ivy’s attempt to fit back into her family and society in a world that had changed dramatically during her years of captivity. The police in this series were pretty incompetent and went overboard on their interactions with Ivy. They even accused her of the killing the kidnapper’s brother and threw her into jail. Of course she was innocent but it was only one of many missteps by the authorities. Then, another girl was kidnapped and all of a sudden, the police need to enlist Ivy to help them find the girl.
In the finale, through some more police ineptitude, Ivy gains the release of the young girl but is recaptured by her kidnapper. Fortunately, this didn’t last too long and she escapes in a satisfactory conclusion to the story that includes the death of her abductor. This was a one and done mini-series – no season two but was a very good summer show. Along with Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and HBO’s “The Night Of”, we got some surprise summer TV quality. All are worth watching.
Jane the Virgin, Season 1 (Netflix)
I have not been able to binge as much as I had expected to this summer due to all the sports and the last two weeks of political conventions but I am making my way through Season 1 of Jane the Virgin. I never gave the show a chance when it first came out having dropped it after the pilot thinking that it just wasn’t my thing. The critics never gave up on it though so I decided to give it a second look. I have watched about one half of Season 1 and am enjoying it more with each new episode. It has more heart than just about anything you can watch on TV and the acting is great. Each character is complex and engaging me in their stories. I guess technically it is considered a comedy but I find it more dramatic in the way it plays out. I hope to get through the rest of Season 1 before the end of the summer. If you haven’t seen it, try it by watching at least 7 or 8 episodes of the first season.
No posts for the next couple of weeks!