Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Paradise: Faith": second film in Ulrich's quiet trilogy

Paradise: Faith” (“Paradies: Glaube”) is the second of a trilogy of three slow-motion films by Ulrich Seidl about middle aged female characters finding themselves. 
  
Maria Hofstatter plays Anna, a medical technician who does rather personal cat scans on cancer patients at a Vienna hospital.  But at home she is totally pious, belonging to an ultra-devout Catholic sect committed to converting Austria back to Catholicism.  The film opens with her praying in her tiny apartment, even whipping herself. 
  
For her summer vacation, she goes door-to-door in low-income tenements to proselytize, perhaps in a manner that calls to mind Mormon missionaries (as in films like “God’s Army”, “The Falls”, and “Latter Days”) or Jehovah’s Witnesses.  She is quite aggressive at the door, pretty much barging in and lecturing the residents about “faith” and sexual morality.  One of the people late in the film is an alcoholic who also makes a lesbian advance.  
  
About forty minutes into the film, she gets an unpleasant surprise.  Her disabled Egyptian Muslim husband returns.  He still wants to sleep with her, but she will have none of it now.  Gradually, religious and spiritual conflicts between the two escalate, to the point that she no longer reveres the crucifix.

There are several scenes where Anna plays a small home Casio with organ sounds (and not a full keyboard) and sings hymns. 
    
The site for the film from Strand is here. I reviewed from a Vimeo private screener. Yje DVD becomes available Oct. 22. 

  

I have never accepted the idea of just accepting someone’s scripture as truth, worshipping it, and then trying to convert people.  I like to win arguments, not converts.  But I do have my own kind of faith, and belief.  

Picture: Cathedral of Hope, Dallas (mine, 2011).  

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