Anchoress | Chicago Reader

Anchoress

A visually striking if dramatically somewhat oblique look at a visionary girl's struggle (ostensibly spiritual, but also clearly sexual and sensual) against the ruling powers in a 14th-century English village—a first feature directed by Chris Newby from a script by Judith Stanley-Smith and Christine Watkins (1993). The high-contrast black-and-white cinematography (by Michel Baudour) is stunning throughout, the acting is all competent or better, and the period ambience seems flawless, though a certain academic distance tends to limit our emotional involvement; what emerges is thoughtful, arresting, and interesting rather than gripping. (This was produced by the British Film Institute, and at times a theoretical rigor, suggestive of that organization's education department, seems to hover over the proceedings.) Yet it's an intelligent take on the Middle Ages, a far cry from the usual treatment, and well worth checking out. With Natalie Morse, Eugene Bervoets, Toyah Willcox, Peter Postlethwaite, and Christopher Eccleston.

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