Vision: From the Life of Hildegard Von Bingen
For moviegoers whose idea of fun isn’t a German film biography of a medieval nun, this solemnly glazed offering from writer-director Margarethe von Trotta and her frequent leading lady Barbara Sukowa probably won’t prompt any radical re-evaluations. Does it help that she’s a progressive feminist medieval nun, and an accomplished medical scientist, musician, playwright and mystic? Well, anyway, it should. With inviting intensity, Sukowa portrays the storied 12th-century Benedictine abbess as politically shrewd enough to stand up to the pope and start an all-female convent. She’s also characterized as an outspoken opponent of mortification, which seems glumly ironic given that the framework of von Trotta’s profile isn’t entirely enlivening. At its best when allowing for the interplay of petty jealousies and phony pieties, Vision gets a little hazy with big ideas about divinity and history, but also shines with occasional keen observations of basic humanity.