Hadewijch, the new feature from the...what's the word? "interesting?" "problematic?" depends on who you talk to, I guess, I myself think both or either quite a lot of the time...French director Bruno Dumont, opens theatrically in New York on Christmas Eve, and never let it be said that IFC, the concern responsible for this U.S. engagement, doesn't have a sense of humor. For this film is a story of a young woman of privilege who feels herself consumed by her love of God, and for her troubles in this resepct is kicked out of the convent in which she seems so happy. After which she takes up with some young Muslim jihadists. What ensues largely eschews the oft-graphic content of some of Dumont's prior films, which include L'humanite, Twenty-Nine Palms, and Flandres.I was impressed with the film and impressed with the performance of lead actress Julie Sokolowski, who plays the sort-of title role; her character also goes by her given name, Céline.
As the film approaches its U.S. opening, there has been some debate in various social media as to what actually happens in the picture, and some of this debate has been heated, and some of the heat has been emanating from my own self, as I see the film as being pretty unambiguous with respect to what "actually" happens...in that it, you know, actually shows what happens on the screen, within its frames, and so on. Others feel that events as depicted, or "depicted" in Hadewijch are more open to interpretation, such as it is. If I seem to be dancing around the issue, it's because I want to spare any spoilers from readers who have yet to see the film, which I believe is a noteworthy one and well worth seeing. These questions or matters of interpretation go straight to the heart of what kind of movie Hadewijch is. Or perhaps they go straight to the heart of a statement made by a friend who doesn't share my admiration for the director's work, that is, "I don't think he knows how to make a movie."
As for the interview that runs below, it could be said to constitute one long spoiler in and of itself, in a sense, particularly so after the jump, and so I want to emphasize that I am offering it here, earlier than I might have, as a kind of "service" to readers who've already seen the film and want to get back on Twitter and get into a virtual screaming match with people who think...well, never mind. What the reader who hasn't seen the picture yet might want to do is bookmark this and come back later if he or she is interested.
In the interest of not looking like I'm cheating or anything, I reproduce the interview straight from the transcript (complete with occasional "[unclear]"s), my long-winded questions included. The interview was conducted in early October of 2009 in New York City.
Q: I want to talk about the impetus for this particular film. Flandres, I think, can be looked at as a film about war and about love. And this can be looked at as a film about love and war, or a certain form of war, or the war within the heart, the war without. And I wonder if there was a specific bridge between your conception of Flandres and your conception of this film, or if they're totally discrete objects.
BD: (through interpreter) Just the fact of being inside someone who's so passionate and how that can then go over and veer off into something that's totally different, the opposite of love. And that's very disturbing for me and that's what I want to explore. When does the door open? That fact is very disturbing metaphysically.