When an infant of a young nun is found strangled in the convent a psychiatrist is appointed by the court to decide if the mother is fit to stand trial. Mysterious aspects of her personality are uncovered which lead to an e... more »motional climax. Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 09/01/2009 Starring: Jane Fonda Meg Tilly Run time: 98 minutes Rating: Pg13« less
Excellent film about a young nun who gets pregnant
Stephen M. Bauer | Hazlet, NJ United States | 07/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Agnes of God has a very tight script, plot and cinematography. It is gripping from end to end. The film is not about religion but about the inter-personal and intra-personal conflicts of a psychiatrist, the mother superior of a community of nuns and one of her young nuns.Set in Montreal, the movie opens with a very young, pretty nun being discovered unconscious and splattered with a lot of blood. A dead newborn baby is also discovered in the room.Presumably, unknown to anyone, the nun, Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly), had been pregnant, and she strangled the baby immediately upon its birth. She is charged with manslaughter.A psychiatrist, Dr. Martha Livingston (Jane Fonda), is summoned by the court to make a diagnosis of the woman. Initially Dr. Livingston resisted the assignment, because she said, it was an open and shut case. The community of nuns is cloistered, and for Dr. Livingston to do her job, she must penetrate the world of the cloister. She is not at all congenial or sympathetic towards the nuns. It turns out she has her own emotional ax to flail against the church.Mother Miriam Ruth (Anne Bankcroft), the mother superior of the convent, is equally hostile to Dr. Livingston. She is adamantly opposed to having a psychiatrist diagnose Sister Agnes, but she has no choice since it is a legal matter. She is faced with the dilemma of sending her young charge go to jail or the nuthouse. Later on, it comes out that the prioress has been keeping a few secrets of her own related to the issue.Everyone denies knowing the girl was pregnant. No one has any idea how it happened. Its obvious the postulate/novice is suffering from a serious psychiatric illness, or several. She has the social and emotional development of a naïve grade school child. The few surprises and plot twists are well spaced and more than enough to keep the plot flowing. I found all of the characters and action credible. The three main characters are all multi-dimensional. The Mother Superior is well rounded, a mature person and leader, full of flaws and dragging a lifetime of baggage. Sister Agnes is the epitome of innocence and purity. She comes across as truly otherworldly. Her singing symbolizes both. I was a little disappointed in Dr. Livingston. Considering she was a psychiatrist, I thought she was a too lacking in self-knowledge. Her chain smoking was both annoying and symbolic. Dr. Livingston's assigned task is diagnosing Sister Agnes only, not cure her, but Dr. Livingston quickly channels her anger into passionately trying to help her. She succeeds as a psychiatrist and as a human being."
One my all-time favorites
N. Abbott | Atlanta, GA United States | 09/11/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is something about the sweetness and innocence with which Meg Tilly plays the part of Agnes that attracts me to this movie time and time again. Perhaps it's the longing for some of the innocence and naivety that she portrays in Agnes. I think Jane Fonda's portrayal of Livingston is just wonderful. She manages to play a tough, atheistic psychiatrist with such gusto, yet she still appears very human and vulnerable. I recommend this movie highly, especially to people who have struggled with the paradoxes involved in the conflict between faith and science."
A collsion of science with faith
C. MacNeil | Fort Wayne, IN USA | 02/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Norman Jewison adapted the Broadway play of the same name with an A list of performers who, despite their individual and combined magnificent talents, can't quite salvage what might be to some a disappointing resolution. Still, getting there is a provocative odyssey in defining the fine line between divine faith and science. In a usually engaging performance, Jane Fonda is a chain-smoking psychiatrist in a French-speaking Canadian territory and is appointed by the Crown to evaluate the mental stability of a novice nun, Agnes (brilliantly played by Meg Tilley in an Oscar-nominated supporting role) who gives birth and then kills her newborn in her blood-spattered convent room. Soon, with Agnes proclaiming Immaculate Conception and virgin birth, the film's premise of faith vs. science vs. rape is laid. All too soon, Fonda clashes with the protective but domineering Mother Superior (Ann Bancroft, also in an Oscar-nominated turn). With the Crown dubious about Agnes' version of how she got pregnant, it nonetheless wants the case quickly adjudicated so as not to create a battered public image associated with prosecuting a nun. Along the way, we learn that the strain between Fonda and Bancroft is the former's rejection of the Catholic faith stems from the former's bad experience with a sister during childhood. Still, the focus is on the extent of human faith and its sometimes incompatibility with science. All three actress - Fonda, Bancroft and Tilley - are captivating in their adverse positions with each other in the argument of Science vs. God. The film's resolution is consistent with contemporary dogma and leaves us somewhat puzzled but more disturbed by its hint that faith may not be enough to salvage ourselves. Then again, maybe there's not supposed to be a happily-ever-after or comfortable absolution: after all, even with the strongest of faith, not everything ends happily ever after. Nonetheless, "Agnes of God" remains a tantilizing film that entices its viewers to question and reaffirm their faith and whether it can survive the invasion of skepticism that comes in the name op science. Beyond that, as an entertainment piece, "Anges of God" is a showpiece for its three lead characters, and watching them finding the answer none of them wants is a worthy watch."
An interesting debate about faith and the miraculous
Hallstatt Prince | MA. USA | 06/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an interesting film that raises the questions as to whether miracles still exist in the modern world. The movie and play were criticized by some as being an attack on Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Catholics have a good reason to be wary of broadsides from popular culture but sometimes these condemnations take the form of a knee jerk reaction. I for one found the movie a good debate about religion and spirituality and I found the movie to be highly moving and faith affirming.
The story concerns a young novitiate in a secluded convent in Canada who becomes pregnant and whose baby is killed. The government is put in a difficult position since even though Canada has a large Catholic population a crime has been committed which must be investigated.
Jane Fonda, in one of her best roles, plays the neurotic psychiatrist Martha Livingstone who is sent to investigate the incident. The psychiatrist is not completely objective as she is what some might call "a fallen Catholic", someone who has unfortunately been harmed by religion. And she has an ax to grind.
Her nemesis (although "nemesis might be too strong of a word) is the mother superior of the convent played by Anne Bancroft. Her performance is also magnificent. Although the mother superior obstructs the investigation some of the most interesting dialogue about faith is between the psychiatrist and the mother superior. Both women almost more interested in Agnes to justify their own vocations and points of view as they are about getting to the truth.
Dr. Livingstone believe Agnes should be allowed to leave the convent and become an independent woman with as much religious zelotry as the mother superior demonstrates in wanting Agnes to remain at the convent.
By far the most interesting character is the nun who bore the child. She is played by Meg Tilly to perfection. She portrays a nun whose innocence is like that of a child.
We come to learn the mother superior has her reasons for covering up some of the facts of the case, the main one being that the innocent novitiate is the niece of the mother superior.
To the shock of Dr. Livingstone Agnes sometimes demonstrates stigmata (for those of you who do not believe in stigmata it is a fairly well documented phenomena -whether it is a miracle and proof of the existence of God is a matter of debate).
The high point of the film comes when Agnes is hypnotized. Beautiful cinematography and special effects gives a moving picture of what Agnes experienced.
At the end of the movie we are left to draw our own conclusions.
A very moving and thought provoking film.
Jim Connell "Hallstatt Prince""
Meg Tilly Shines As Agnes
Hallstatt Prince | 11/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film provokes more questions than it provides answers. The score by Georges Delerue enhances the unfolding of the mysterious narrative. Meg Tilly shines as Agnes. Her performance is inspired and affecting."