The aspirant nun Céline van Hadewijch is invited to leave the convent where she studies and she returns to the house of her parents in Paris. Céline meets her outcast Muslim teenage friend ...
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The aspirant nun Céline van Hadewijch is invited to leave the convent where she studies and she returns to the house of her parents in Paris. Céline meets her outcast Muslim teenage friend Yassine Chikh in a café and they hang around together. Céline tells that he is only her friend since she is committed with God and will stay virgin since her body belongs to God. Yassine introduces Céline to his older brother and religious leader Nassir Chikh and he invites the teenage girl to participate in his religious seminars. However, Nassir is actually a terrorist and the confused Céline is the perfect tool for his cell.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The French film magazine 'Cahiers du cinéma' included Hadewijch (2009) in their Top 10 list for 2009 as No.10. See more »
Le Miroir de Jesus
composed by André Caplet
performed by Orchestre des Pays de Savoie
under the direction of Mark Foster See more »
The God Who Wasn't There
Told that she is too hardcore, adolescent nun Celine Hadewijch is expelled from her Antwerp convent and released back in to the world, where her desires can be provoked and thus her love for God truly tested.
On Paris' mean streets she meets Yassine, a French Muslim, whose performance I will describe as nonsensical, nervous and numb. The pair meet now and then to partake in teenage thrills, like illegal moped riding. She tells him that she is happy to be friends but nothing more, as her vow to God forces her to remain celibate.
Her love test arrives when she is introduced to Yassine's older brother, a mole-faced terrorist who masquerades as an innocent preacher. He gives poisonous religious seminars in the back of a kebab shop (that'll put you off fish and chips) to perfect terrorist bait: ignorant poor people.
Celine is neither poor or ignorant, but is nonetheless seduced. A dark cloud descends right at the point where she accepts – what? Conversion to Islam? A terrorist assignment? It is left open for interpretation, just like any religious text.
The line 'Abstinence is the idea, not martyrdom' uttered by the Sister Superior in response to Celine's behaviour got me thinking. Has she been forced into religion through neglect from her family? Is her devotion a mask for her insecurity? Or does she suffer because it is man she desires, not God, and cannot forgive herself for not being able to suppress her (God-given) nature?
The interesting part of the film focuses on Celine's personal quest for earthly unity with God, which she knows is unattainable, but pursues for the occasional closeness she feels to Him. Frustratingly this story is shelved in favour of exposing the subtle nature of extremism. My dissatisfaction lay in the misalignment of the two narratives.
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