New Wave master Jacques Rivette’s second feature begins with a
succinct explanation of the film’s historical context: based on a novel
by the Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot, which was itself
inspired by real characters, The Nun is set in 1760, at a time when
French convents were used by the aristocracy to hide away unmarried
or otherwise inconvenient young women. Abbeys were bought and
sold by the rich, church superiors were all-powerful, and the monastic
environment was frequently anything but pious. The Nun tracks the
downfall of Suzanne Simonin, a young woman forced into the convent
by her insolvent aristocratic family. While Suzanne feels no calling to
take holy vows, she is a devout being who resists the fanaticism she
discovers in the convent. Faced with gas-lighting and persecution,
Suzanne manages to be transferred to another convent, only to be
exposed to the lust of a mother superior who has lost sight of her own
vows. While in some ways Rivette’s closest brush with conventional
storytelling, The Nun reaches a terrifying level of intensity through
the rigorous depiction of confined spaces, the jarring mix of atonal
and religious music, and the searing performance of Anna Karina as
Suzanne Simonin.

Jacques Rivette

Jean Gruault
Jacques Rivette

Anna Karina
Liselotte Pulver
Micheline Presle
Francisco Rabal

140 min.
France, 1966
DCP, DVD, Blu-Ray

Rialto Pictures

$350 DVD/Blu-Ray
$450 DCP