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THERESE (director/writer: Alain Cavalier; screenwriter: Camille de Casabianca/based on the memoir of St. Therese; cinematographer: Philippe Rousselot; editor: Isabelle Dedieu; music: ; cast: Catherine Mouchet (St. Therese of Lisieux), Aurore Prieto (Celine), Sylvie Habault (Pauline), Ghislaine Mona (Marie), Helene Alexandridis (Lucie), Clemence Massart (The prioress), Nathalie Bernart (Aimee), Beatrice de Vigan (The singer), Noele Chantre (The old woman), Anne Bernelat (The cripple), Sylvaine Massart (The nurse), M. C. Brown-Sarda (The gatekeeper), M. L. Eberschweiler (The painter), Josette Lefevre and Gilberte Laurain (The Nuns); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Maurice Bernart; Circle Films; 1986-France-in French with English subtitles)
I found it amazing that Cavalier‘s uncinematic film turned out so well.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Alain Cavalier(“Lives”/”Fire and Ice”/”Irene”) directs and co-writes with Camille de Casabianca the stark biopic on Therese Martin(Catherine Mouchet, stage actress) canonized as a saint and popularly known as “the Little Flower of Jesus.” The sobering religious film in an arty way tells us how the nun’s meditation exercises increased her spirituality.

Saint Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897) kept a diary from the time she was a youngster, as we learn about her mostly through the diary that was turned into a memoir. We learn how the future Carmelite nun adored Jesus at a young age and was determined to serve him throughout her life. She enters the Carmelite order at the age of 15 and joins her two other sisters.

In a series of vignettes, we observe how she adapts herself to the rigors of everyday convent life, her relationship with the eccentric mother superior and the other sisters.

In its wonderful austere style it translates the life of simplicity and purity its subject led, who in 1924 was canonized. The saint died at 24 from TB. The pic eschews any preaching.

I found it amazing that Cavalier‘s uncinematic film turned out so well.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”