Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross ★★★★

Dietrich Brüggemann’s clever, simple, yet thought-provoking German drama that examines the burden of Catholic guilt, extreme religious fundamentalism, and bad parenting is extremely scathing and disturbing as it is moving and powerful. This simple drama follows a conservative young Catholic woman whose extreme religious ideals drove her to do such disturbing, tragic acts of self-martyrdom.

Brüggemann achieved such suffocating, yet calm atmosphere through his episodic-like narrative.The film is cleverly inspired from the real Stations of the Cross, and with its 14 one-long take segments, the film expose the ills of how people clearly abuses religion and put such burden to these innocent, young individuals. And at the core is Maria (parallels Jesus Christ) who is the clear victim of being forced to comply such rules and commit such high expectations from her religious upbringing. Which brings to the question “at what point do you say enough is enough?”

The acting is exceptional across the board. Young actress Lea van Acken gives a phenomenal turn as the central protagonist Maria. Van Acken’s screen naturalism and sincerity are remarkable to witness. While Franziska Weisz is brutally masterful in her infuriating, yet superb portrayal of Maria’s mother. However, the greatness of the film is due to its solid screenplay that cuts through like a knife. No wonder it won the Best Script at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival. It’s smooth and explosive, but not veering into such exploitative territory in dealing with its serious themes and characters. Overall, it’s a pretty solid picture. This film definitely satisfied my craving for great Euro art-house flicks. Recommended!

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