Opening 28 Sep 2023
Writing credits: Cécile Larripa, Philippe Pinel, Laurent Tirard, Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon
Principal actors: Valérie Bonneton, Camille Chamoux, Claire Nadeau, Guilaine Londez, Louise Malek
Reverend Mother Veronique (Valérie Bonneton) is a Catholic nun and leader of sisters Augustine, Béatrice, and Bernadette, as well as their apprentice Gwendoline (Louise Malek). The five of them live in a convent, deep in the woods of France. Momentarily their main interest is improving the conditions of their hospice or old-age home. This costs money. Perhaps they can win the upcoming bicycle race, which is a bit unrealistic, considering they can’t really ride bicycles. They begin to practice; there are accidents. The worst accident happens to their main competition: a group of men led by Pierre (Francois Morel). As a result, these men are unable to continue, but Pierre is willing to train the nuns. All should be well, except it isn’t. Suddenly a new group of nuns dressed in black and white appear. They will also compete, but first they move in with “our” nuns, sleeping in beds in their attic and sitting with them in the kitchen. Their leader, Sister Josephine (Sidse Babett Knudsen), has known Veronique, since they were nine years old; they were already antagonists even then.
The German title translates to “Races of Nuns” and who would have thought that I would sit and laugh myself silly for 87 minutes while watching nuns? There are discussions such as “How can you improve the Bible? Contact the Pope.” The oldest nun does not speak, but writes commentaries on a board, which comes in handy later. Bicycles play a leading role. Apprentice Gwendolin is not always comfortable with learning to become a nun; her “former” life still appeals. I definitely recommend this film: actors, topics, and a perfect length—not overlong. I saw it in the original French with German subtitles, but it will probably come to us in German. (Becky Tan)