Emphasizing the parallels between a wedding and a nun's ritual taking of vows, Anca Hirte's "Theodora the Sinner" (aka "Teodora Sinner") starts well but turns into a fairly standard novitiate docu with a lot of hair.

Emphasizing the parallels between a wedding and a nun’s ritual taking of vows, Anca Hirte’s “Theodora the Sinner” (aka “Teodora Sinner”) starts well but turns into a fairly standard novitiate docu with a lot of hair. Set in a rural Romanian convent (a “theme du jour” considering Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills”), the film follows a long-tressed novice’s path to full sisterhood, nicely capturing the rhythms of convent life. Pic touches on ideas visually but fails to expand on them, and the images cry out for celluloid over digital, yet a small Gallic release may spur fest and TV play.

Theodora spent 11 years in the nunnery waiting for the mother superior to let her take full vows, and now it’s time. The ceremony, in which she symbolically weds Jesus, is analogous to marriage rites, and a nun’s joyous reflection on her emotionally transformative betrothal to Christ uses much the same language a newlywed would. A closeup of Theodora’s lips reciting prayers plays on the near-eroticism of the words, but Hirt doesn’t follow through with the idea of spiritual ecstasy’s proximity to sexual fulfilment. Smallscreens should minimize digital harshness.

Theodora the Sinner

France-Romania

Production

A Shellac (in France) release of a Les Films d'Ici, Elefant Films production, in association with Yumi Prods., with the participation of the Centre National du Cinema et de l'Image Animee. Produced by Daniel Burlac, Richard Copans. Directed by Anca Hirte.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, HD), Hirte; editors, Eugen Kelemen, Gilles Volta; sound, Bruno Auzet, Marius Mefterache. Reviewed at Transylvania Film Festival (Romanian Days), June 8, 2012. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

(Romanian dialogue)

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