A press release describes Thérèse as "one of the first post-Passion projects to meet Hollywood's newly piqued interest in religious film." Clearly the producers hope that this is the "right moment" for such a film. And it may be, at least for Roman Catholics, among whom Thérèse of Lisieux (the "Little Flower") is the most recognizable and popular saint of modern times.
As an evangelical Protestant, however, I felt as I watched this first full-length English-language film portrayal of the young lady of Lisieux that I had somehow wandered into a theater playing a foreign film without subtitles. Something was being communicated just below the surface here, I thought, in telegraphic symbols and catchphrases, but I was too dense to quite catch the deeper meaning. I felt uncomfortable, as if I sat with a sign around my neck reading "clueless Protestant."
As a student of Christian history with a desire to see more deeply into the many traditional ways of being Christian, I kept hoping I'd be let in on the secret. But the plot, characterization, and dialogue barely skimmed the surfaces—failing to show us why a young girl yearned so deeply to enter a monastery at the age of 15 that she importuned the Pope himself; how she was able to travel from despair at her own lack of heroic sanctity to joy in self-denial and small acts of kindness; and how those who witnessed her death—an agonizing wasting-away from tuberculosis—found redemptive value in her suffering.
In the film's early frames we meet the tight-knit Martin family at their modest French estate. The father, Louis, is forever reading Scripture to his five daughters. His vocation—never shown in the movie—is that of watchmaker, ...1
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Thérèse: The Story of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux
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