Stations of the Cross
Director: Dietrich Bruggermann
Year of Release: 2015
Running Time: 1 hour 47 minutes
Comprised of 14 shots representing the 14 stations of the cross of Christ, Dietrich Bruggermann's formal experiment is a daring extrapolation of the ways in which dogma clouds rational judgement. The story of young Maria (a phenomenal Lea van Acken), who takes upon herself a messianic burden while struggling with adolescence and burgeoning sexuality, is a pristine example of the ways in which religion, untethered from a basic understanding of reality, can led children toward self-righteous martyrdom. As Maria hopes to give away her life fully to God in hopes that her mute brother will be cured, Stations of the Cross becomes an increasingly tragic dissection of undaunted fundamentalism that's often comical in it's extremity. Bruggermann's direction, too, is just as rigid as the subject matter. Filmed mostly in static, locked down wide-shots, the film feels almost oppressively detached, creating tableaus that often feel like modern reworkings of Da Vinci paintings, but the aesthetic is both cinematic as well as thematic. Acken's feverish, wide-eyed performance, meanwhile, casts a haunting spell. A rigorous, beautifully wrought piece of work.