Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Get thee to a nunnery - and become a stereotype!

After much stopping and starting, I finally finished watching Doubt. You know, it's the film where Meryl Streep as a bitch nun accuses father Philip Seymour Hoffmann of abusing a black boy in his care. Did he do it or not? Well, that's for you to find out, if you can be bothered.

Frankly it wasn't up to much. The performances were neat and tidy, and it had a nice semi-austere 1960s New York setting but when it comes to nuns they're always portrayed in the following ways:

1. Ancient but kind (Sound of Music, Sister Act)
2. Ancient with saucy twinkle in eye (Sister Act)
3. Young and naive (Doubt, Agnes Of God, In This House Of Brede)
4. Young and good and wanting to good works but gets a shock (The Nun's Story)
5. Serene (Most films with nuns in)
6. Dried-up old bitch with vendetta (Doubt)
7. Bonkers (Black Narcissus)
8. Frustrated lesbian (All nun films)
9. Pure evil (The Magdalene Sisters)

Although I attended a catholic school from ages six to 11 I have little experience of nuns. 'Christian' brothers I could bang about all day long, with their predatory ways verging on paedophilia (it happened but not to me, not like that), their zealotry, their smelly suits and their funny ideas. But nuns are a bit of an unknown quantity. I've gleaned most of my info from films, though my mother, who went to a convent, has filled in the blanks. It's offical: they're mainly vile.

There's never much christian about them unless they're types three, four or five. Otherwise they're ghastly harridans draped in black shrouds. I think that's probably about right.

Abbesses, mother superiors, novices and the rest of you, I've got your number.


A Kitten in a Brandy Glass said...

I saw the French film "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life" at the weekend. It was quite good in a very French, not-about-very-much way, but because the story follows a family from the 1970s to the 2000s, I was expecting a lot of retro interiors and fashion details (à la The Lives of Others) but it failed to live up to its promise. The acting was good, but the hairstyling was too anachronistic. You can't win with modern cinema.

Matthew Rudd said...

I liked the nuns in A Very Peculiar Practice though. Spend all day careering around on bikes and in cars, leaving trails of chaos in your wake. Marvellous.

Chris Hughes said...

Where does Nuns On The Run fit in?

Cosmikat said...

There was a good (well, depending on how you determine 'good') Nunsploitation documentary on Ch4 a while back. I think I'll stick with that sort.

Red Squirrel said...

I quite liked Doubt. So there.

Five-Centres said...

It's as dull as you are, Squirrel.

Ishouldbeworking said...

Nuns, my nightmare, my nemesis. Neither forgiven nor forgotten.

Clair said...

This reminds me of a similar list Joe Queenan did about religious films. He voted the best film about bishops 'The Bishop's Wife', ditto the worst film about bishops, 'because I couldn't find any other films about bishops".

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