John Pielmeier penned the screenplay from his own 1982 play about a young nun who is found to have given birth and then strangled the baby at an isolated convent. A psychiatrist, played by Jane Fonda, is appointed by the court to determine whether or not the young woman (Meg Tilly) is fit to stand trial, and is assured that the seemingly innocent, naive girl has no recollection of the child or conception.
In her aggressive quest for the facts in the case, Fonda goes head to head with Mother Superior Anne Bancroft, a cagey, very hip woman of God whose past as a wife and mother gives her a strong knowledge of the real world values represented by Fonda.
Fonda’s relentless interrogating, mannered chain-smoking and enforced two dimensionality cause her to become tiresome very early on. She remains a brittle cliche of a modern professional woman.
Bancroft gives a generally highly engaging performance as a religious woman too knowledgeable to be one-upped by even the craftiest layman.
Tilly is angelically beautiful as the troubled youngster and brings a convincing innocence and sincerity to the role that would be hard to match.
1985: Nominations: Best Actress (Anne Bancroft), Supp. Actress (Meg Tilly), Original Score