Reporting Eric Henderson
To borrow from Rogers & Hammerstein: How do you hold twenty-nine palms upon your hand? The answer is to jam the stems into your stigmata.
French pseudo-artsploitation practitioner Bruno Dumont’s career has been uneven, to say the least, since his scandalous 1999 L’Humanite took multiple prizes at Cannes.
Since then, he’s made a few attempts to recapture the crown with his unique blend of Dardenne Brothers-derived Robert Bresson and punk raconteur outlandishness (borrowed from no one in particular but, instead, shared among nearly every other French director currently being distributed in the United States these days).
Twentynine Palms was the most notable provocation since, ending with a violent flourish that said, in essence, every expletive you can think of directed at the American dream. A truly insufferable film, but I mean that in the most essential sense.
Since then, Dumont has recalibrated his scope and come out on the other side with Hadewijch, a spare look at a nun whose stridently individual ways harsh her fellow sisters’ beatific buzz and inspire them to kick her to the curb into the real world.
Hadewijch’s excommunication and reemergence as pious civilian Celine becomes a (Maria Von) trap, especially when her Catholicism converges with the ways of Islam.
Expecting a showtune or two? Don’t bank on it, but Hadewijch should hold gadfly fans’ appetites until Lars Von Trier’s latest arrives here. It plays tonight at Trylon Microcinema as part of Take Up Productions’ “Tuesday Premieres” series.
(Also, don’t miss Colin Covert’s secret screening Wednesday evening as part of Take Up’s “The Defenders” series. You won’t know what he’s showing until he introduces it. He promised on Facebook that it’s going to be a cool pic for a hot day.)