Germany, 2014, 106 min., Color, German, French, Latin with English subtitles
The film plays Sunday 4/19 at 12pm as part of the Dallas International Film Fest - International Spotlight: Germany. Tix and information is available at dallasfilm.org
Matt Mungle - @themungle
In Stations of the Cross we watch Maria (Lea van Acken) deal with the struggles of being a devout teenager. To say her family is ultra-conservative is like saying the Grand Canyon is a big hole. They are not content with obeying traditional Catholic doctrine but take things to the extreme; finding the devil under every rock, and not just music. This causes Maria to chastise herself about everything that most teens would find as normal.
This is a powerful film about the repercussion of not balancing strong faith with available grace. Franziska Weisz plays Maria's mother and delivers a frightening performance. She leads her family with a stern look and a quick chastisement. Of course she thinks what she is doing is beneficial but all those looking from the outside can see the terrible toll it is taking on Maria.
The movie is clever in that it tells Maria's story in collation with Jesus' journey to the cross. As the story unfolds Maria's struggles are depicted with one of those stations; Jesus carries his cross, Jesus falls the first time, etc. Maria is so concerned with living a chaste life that she is willing to sacrifice her own health and well being to please God. But that sacrifice may not be exactly what God prefers.
STATIONS OF THE CROSS is solidly written and it has the ability to deliver such extreme ideas with a way that is not sensationalized but rather saddening. You want to take Maria aside and assure her that Jesus already took that journey and her life here means much more because of it. Expert acting from the entire cast elevate this to a top-notch dramatic offering.