Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DVD REVIEW: Sister Smile (2001)


RATED: Unrated
GENRE: Drama
DIRECTOR: Roger Deutch
CAST: Ginevra Colonna (Jeanine), Antonio Salines (Vitale), Simon Caparrini (Clara), Francesca Bianco (Mother Superior), Stephen Bonafede (Claudia), Ana Veleria Dini (Elsa)RELEASE DATE: December 7th 2010 - Available Now!

PLOT: In 1963 a Belgian nun known only as Sister Smile (Giverra Colonna) topped the America pop music charts with the song "Dominique". SISTER SMILE (SUOR SORRISO) is a speculative account of her complex life and tragic suicide.

FILM: I'm only vaguely aware of the 1960's phenomenon Sister Smile, a Belgiun nun who gained worldwide success with the addicting pop-song "Dominique" only to spiral into a world of drugs and unhappiness. What director Roger Deutsch has done with Sister Smile (Suor Sorriso) is to create as speculative account of the tragic woman's life.  Shortly after the success of "Dominique" Deckers (Ginevra Colonna) leaves the convent and carries on a tumultuous affair with Clara (Simon Caparrini), an older ex-nun who runs a care shelter for wayward women. Clara is madly in love with Jeanine but it's a destructive relationship. Decker is wildly jealous and mentally unstable, the relationship is corrosive for both and costs Clara her career and possibly her sanity. Not helping matters is Jeanine's drug-dabbling ways and a bizarre relationship with her father that leans a bit sinister. Deutch's approach is not linear and is experimental in nature but the film is a striking and poignant. Actress Ginevra Colonna as Deckers is fantastic as the unhinged and spiritually compromised singing nun, she's imminently watchable and I'm saddened that since the theatrical release of  SISTER SMILE in 2001 she seems to have relegated herself to Italian television programs.

DVD: SISTER SMILE is presented in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen with Italian 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo with English language subtitles. Included are two award winning short films from director Robert Deutch and they are truly as compelling as the main feature in my opinion. The 1st film DEAD PEOPLE (1984) documents the rambling stories of the drunken Frank Butler. It's gripping and saddening and oddly affecting. The 2nd short subject is MARIO MAKES A MOVIE (2004) which recounts a filmmaking project assembled by director Deutsch's class of mentally challenged students focusing on a young man named Mario and his affinity for filmmaking. It's gripping, wonderful and weird stuff and (again) a bit saddening ...definetly a Roger Deutsch signature.



VERDICT: Definitely not an uplifting film, quite the opposite - more a spiritually harrowing true-to-life melancholic docudrama that follows a young woman as she succumbs to the demons of drugs, love and insanity. ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5 stars)