Quick-Thoughts: Jacques Rivette’s The Nun (1966)

Veils go long like Chia

Prayers grow numb like glacier

I’m not the devout idea

My faith’s blurred like Anna

My faith’s blurred like Anna Karina

Uh, wait

Anna Karina 

Uh, wait

Anna Karina

S**t, this movie was scarier than that other “The NunConjuring movie, and it didn’t need no poltergeists to do it either. I’m a tad disappointed that in a story pertaining to history’s business-like transactions of selling children into corrupt organized religion, they just showcased most of it in a standard downward-spiral dramatization of your go-to incident of institutionalized torture being brought upon someone with a desire for freedom being written off as satanic crime, bouncing back and forth between hope, rebellion, submission, despair, and what have you, but it is admittedly so visually evocative at times — minus its occasionally jumpy shot compiling — and ambitious in its stressing sound design, not to mention it also features *ahem* another out of the ballpark performance by Anna Karina, that I still found myself admiring it by the end. 

The final 45 minutes do change things up a bit, however, insinuating that institutionalized religion, in its ability to control peoples’ view of the world even when breaking its own rules, is able to turn the oppressed into the oppressors that they once so disapproved of, but I feel as if the sudden change in our lead character used to communicate this could’ve been slightly more convincing given its suddenness; this third act of the film should’ve at least been half the length of the entire movie in my opinion, and I know Jacques Rivette is known for making some long ass movies so this concept isn’t that much of a stretch. I’m definitely not saying that the character shift was implausible though, considering her alteration seemed to have derived from a fear of being outcasted once again like she was in the previous acts for deviating from what others saw as holy, but as I said, for an act that re-gears the story in this new, interesting direction, I thought it could’ve been expanded on to reach a higher end of quality, especially when we get to those final ten minutes which feel completely tacked-on yet full of potential in regards to its ideas on how the outside world is a dangerous transition for the innocent, requiring actual development before getting their in good health, a drawback of religious enclosure. There’s a great scene in this act where Mother de Chelles awkwardly attempts to talk about attraction towards men with Suzanne, a scene in which I wish we got more of its kind leading to the next plot mark. I mean, fear is the core of systematic power; it’s gotta be the juiciest part of the narrative! 

Still, with Rivette’s messages in mind, I can’t help but see what’s being done here as something deeply thought-provoking in need of cleaner execution. 

Verdict: B-

“The Nun” is now available to stream on Kanopy.

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