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With: Anna Karina, Liselotte Pulver, Micheline Presle, Francine Bergé, Francisco Rabal, Yori Bertin, Catherine Diamant, Christiane Lenier, Wolfgang Reichmann
Written by: Jean Gruault, Jacques Rivette, based on a novel by Denis Diderot
Directed by: Jacques Rivette
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French, with English subtitles
Running Time: 140
Date: 05/06/1966

The Nun (1966)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Smother Superior

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This second feature by the great Jacques Rivette was recently restored and given a fresh theatrical release. Rivette is known for his lengthy films, and I consider myself a fan, but I found The Nun (La Religieuse) slow going. Anna Karina (Jean-Luc Godard's muse) plays Suzanne, a young woman forced into becoming a nun; her mother tells her that she was an illegitimate child and she wishes to hide her "sin" away. Suzanne quickly begins to feel imprisoned and becomes cruelly ostracized. But even when she transfers to a less austere convent — run by a sweetly smiling, predatory mother superior — her misery refuses to lift. It's based on an 18th century novel by Denis Diderot, and is a condemnation of corruption and hypocrisy in religious organizations. Even this early on, Rivette was in command of his camera, favoring long, observing takes, as if empathizing with Suzanne, but unable to reach out and help her. Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release includes a commentary track by film critic Nick Pinkerton, a liner notes essay by Dennis Lim, a 30-minute making-of documentary, and a trailer.

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