26th Nov2014

‘Stations of the Cross’ Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Lucie Aron, Anna Brüggemann, Michael Kamp, Moritz Knapp, Birge Schade, Florian Stetter, Sven Taddicken, Lea van Acken, Franziska Weisz | Written by Anna Brüggemann | Directed by Dietrich Brüggemann

stations-of-the-cross

Maria, fourteen years of age, just wants to be a good Catholic. Her family is part of a fundamentalist Catholic community who try to live in a modern world whilst dedicating their lives to their religion. She wants live a life without sin, sacrifice everything for those around her and avoid the sinful temptations of the Devil. Her biggest dream is to be a saint and show God that she loves him the most. Unfortunately, her troubled family life, bullying, school and a boy named Christian get in the way of her perfect dream but even they won’t stop her from reaching her place in heaven.

Stations of the Cross is a German film which deals with radical faith and religious devotion. Ironically, for a lot of the film I found myself saying ‘What the hell…’ in response to what I was seeing, so I guess I am doomed to burn in Satan’s Pit along with, if you agree Maria’s family, most people. Stations of the Cross (nothing to do with train stations by the way, I checked) is not a film supporting radical Christianity thankfully. The fact I was quite repulsed at the thought of any Christianity by the end which probably wasn’t their main goal either but I have always had a flair for the dramatic.

What is really interesting about Stations of the Cross is the fact that it comprises of 14 fixed angle long shots, so in other words the camera barely moves at all. This pretty much makes sure you, the viewer, aren’t really involved in the film. You sit and watch events unfold in fixed scenes like you are a fish in a bowl on a nearby table. They chose this so the viewer could ‘contemplate’ what was going on in the film as they watch. I personally contemplated the fact that this made a lot of the scenes seem very, very long. If they aren’t one of the more radical scenes where you are too busy shouting at the screen to notice time fly by, you will probably find yourself beginning to drift off.

I have to give credit to the actors, especially Lea Van Acken who played Maria. They all did an extremely convincing job, not a weak character among them. I would happily smother Maria’s Mother with a pillow, which to me is proof of a very good performance. I suppose the same could be said by the fact I was made extremely uncomfortable by this film especially as you watch Maria basically sacrifice her health in the name of religion. If I was to be brutally honest, probably due to the filming technique and delicate subject matter, Stations of the Cross felt a bit more like an educational video than an entertaining film. It raises its point and hammers it home.

Radical devotion to any religion isn’t a good thing. But sometimes, away from the more emotional scenes, Stations of the Cross feels like a sermon which has gone on for a bit too long.

Stations of the Cross is on limited release across the UK from Friday November 28th.

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