Sister Smile | Chicago Reader

Sister Smile

This unpleasant drama of debasement imagines the trajectory of Belgian nun Jeanine Deckers, whose 1963 hit record “Dominique” inspired the 1966 film The Singing Nun starring Debbie Reynolds. Apparently Deckers left her calling the same year, and 22 years later she committed suicide with her lesbian lover, another ex-nun. Director Roger Deutsch begins with storybook narration, as the young Jeanine climbs down knotted bedsheets from her second-story window, buys a guitar on a whim, and enters a convent (which will later receive all the royalties from her international hit). The tone turns sordid, with detours into surreal lechery and even an animated fantasy sequence, yet the film never explores the spiritual or even the sexual aspects of her experience. Flippant nihilism drives the narration at the end, which tells us Deckers “dreamt of what the world would have been like if she had never been born” and discovered that “everything was exactly the same except she wasn't there.” In Italian with subtitles. 98 min.

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