4 ½ stars
They say that Audrey Hepburn claimed that this film of hers is one of her favorites. I adhere to this statement. It is hard to believe that at first no one, except for Fred Zinnemann, wanted to direct it. It is also even harder to believe that after such disinterest, ‘The Nun’s Story’, nominated for eight Oscars, turned to be a great financial success.
Sister Luke, née Gabrielle van der Mal, has the greatest aspiration of her lifetime, to be a nurse in the distant tropical Congo, and for this she possesses excellent skills and knowledge, partly acquired with the help and education, given by her father, well-known and merited doctor. However, as a nun, she is not flawless, as she can’t be obedient all the time and she can’t help herself being proud, when she does something well or just right. She is often punished because of her deeds that would be considered trifles by us, but not by her order. Finally, her dream comes true and she finds herself in Africa, devoting herself to tropical medicine. There she meets Dr. Fortunati (Peter Finch), who ridicules the monastic canons but eventually becomes her friend.
I, for one, would never say that I can like a long film (149 minutes) about a nun’s life. Indeed, Hollywood didn’t want to shoot this movie basically because it couldn’t offer much action. But they made it and even though it seems like a quiet little story, it has its own loud outbursts of emotions. I found myself mesmerized by the monastic ceremonies and routine. They were executed in the way you can’t get bored. Although it has many pictures of slow nun’s life, it also had some moments of agitation, when for instance, Sister Luke is sent to serve in the asylum. When she travels to Congo, be sure to see the exotic pictures of the tropical country with its people, trees, and animals.
Audrey Hepburn portrayed the nun with perfection. I think it’s her best role after Holly Golightly. Playing Sister Luke is a subtle task, as Sister Luke is also acting. She tries to be humble and modest, but some people just can’t be changed. As Hepburn casts down her eyes in humility, we can see the ray of her rebellious and passionate soul. It is quite interesting that the adapted for the screen book of the same name, was based on the story of an ex-nun. So it's not just a fiction.
Overall, ‘The Nun’s Story’ deserves the liveliest interest, being a great example of Zinnemann and Hepburn’s work. Their union created a fascinating view on the rebellious nun who can’t accept rules she can’t understand and wants to follow the dictates of her heart.
Rating: 4 ½ stars (see what that means)
What did you think of the film? How would you rate it? Any other thoughts are more than welcome.