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Review by Will O’Bryan
Rating: (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!]
Friday, 10/21/2011, 7:30 PM
Feature presentation, $25 at Embassy of France
French with English subtitles
MAYBE JEANNINE DECKERS was before your time. The Singing Nun may mean nothing to you. It’s hard to believe you may have never heard even a few notes of the infectious ”Dominique,” though that’s possible. Whether all of that – or none – is true for you, Sister Smile is calling your name.
With the loosely inspired caveat, ”Un film librement inspiré de la vie de Jeannine Deckers,” Sister Smile is another engrossing story of Promethean fame. Had Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix ever joined the clergy, this might be their story.
The beautifully shot biopic of the Belgian Deckers begins in 1957, showing us a tomboy teen who can’t quite find her footing. She and her mother bicker. She’s being pushed to marry a boy of whom she’s only mildly fond. Her best friend just tried to kiss her. Only two things seem to really make sense: her guitar and God. So off the convent she goes.
Played by the gorgeous (check out those legs!) Cécile de France and directed by Stijn Coninx, we join Deckers on her adventure. De France plays the part with so much gusto and obvious empathy, it’s impossible not to get sucked in. Even when de France’s Deckers is behaving badly, you still want to cheer for her. Of course, this is not really a ”feel good” sort of flick. Granted, during its two hours Sister Smile will having you smiling. You will likely laugh. You will be sad. When you leave the theater, chances are that you will have three things going through your head.
First, you will wonder about the ending. Whatever happened to this woman? How did it really end? (With a suicidal overdose.) Second, you will hope to see de France again soon. She is a pleasure to watch. Third, you will beg to get that damned ”Dominque” song out of your head. It will take about two days.