There’s nun greater than Barbara Sukowa.
VISION: FROM THE LIFE OF HILDEGARD VON BINGEN (Margarethe Von Trotta). 111 minutes. Subtitled. Opens today (Thursday, November 25) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. See times. Rating: NN
Vision: From The Life Of Hildegard Von Bingen turns an extraordinary woman into a symbol. What she's symbolizing, though, remains frustratingly opaque.
The formidable Barbara Sukowa, who has enough gravitas for three films, plays the 12th-century German nun whose visions of a "living light" gave her spiritual and practical guidance. They led her to challenge Church authority on sexual and political matters and to create a complex choral music centuries ahead of its time.
But in director Margarethe von Trotta's dull screenplay, von Bingen is little more than a proto-feminist icon repeatedly confronting her superiors over some piece of cloister business and then being praised for her fortitude by her fellow nuns.
Vision comes briefly to life in its examination of the complex relationship between von Bingen and novitiate Richardis von Stade (Hannah Herzsprung), but again, that has more to do with the actors' commitment to their roles than with von Trotta's engineering of their scenes.