Fourteen-year-old Maria resolves on a life of self-denial in a provocatively ambiguous drama, edged with satire, about a German family dedicated to an ultra-conservative strand of Catholicism.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
A 14-year-old girl’s commitment to the extreme tenets of a conservative Roman Catholic sect is traced with a mix of compassion and irony in a film likely to rile the faithful and the faithless alike. Dedicated to self-denial, young Maria is tormented by the scrutiny of her fanatically observant mother and disconcerted by her feelings for a boy whose appetite for music has not stopped at Bach cantatas. Though his film is formally precise – enacted within a series of tableaux named for the Stations of the Cross – you may never know exactly where on the faith spectrum director Dietrich Brüggemann is coming from: a place of uncertainty, perhaps? What’s utterly sure is the heartbreaking credibility of young Lea van Acken as Maria. The script, which attains a spellbinding clarity of thought and emotion in her most direct encounters with her priest, won Best Script in Berlin this year.
“Made in a small number of shots, each framed and timed to perfection by a dazzlingly accurate ensemble cast and crew… Stations of the Cross nonetheless comes with a bigger surprise: its ‘wicked’ sense of humour, which only enhances its perfect poise between belief and scepticism.” — Nick James, Sight & Sound