English Title: Stations of the Cross
Orignal title: Kreuzweg
Country: Germany, France
Language: German, French, Latin
Director: Dietrich Brüggemann
Lea van Acken
Shrewdly transmuting Jesus’s Via Crucis to a young girl Maria’s (van Acken) self-inflicted martyrdom in the modern-day Germany, STATIONS OF THE CROSS is strictly told in 14 long shots, each represents one station, from “Jesus is condemned to death” to “Jesus is laid in the tomb”.
Admittedly, it is an ingenious concept to take a critical eye on the contentious issue of today’s Catholic religion, the efficient modus operandi requires its cast to be superlatively attentive to their lengthy dialogues and sermons, but who are the target of this film? If you are an atheist or agnostic, it is absolutely a waste of time to watching this film, because Maria’s radical act is beyond your ken and can only infuriate yourself with the demonic tyranny from Maria’s mother (Weisz), whose frantic devotion to her parochial belief makes her such an unapologetic monster, there is not enough rueful tears in the world can suggest otherwise.
If you are a committed believer, don’t watch it, you can easily be offended by the demonisation of the orthodox church, director Dietrich Brüggemann is sadistically trying audience’s patience to let such a diabolically written character take every predictable turn to terrorise her daughter, and get on the nerves of the viewers without any reservation.
And if you are religion-curious, the film will prove itself to be an equally nonstarter since it eventually straddles the issue with an arbitrary brush to conveniently coincide a miracle which ineptly countervails the prevailing condemning slant, to simply mythologise the matter in question as if the filmmaker is suddenly stricken by misgivings and has no more courage left to abide by his belief. What kind of a mother would bring her four-year-old son with her when she visits the ICU under such context? This action is as groundless as the miracle itself, a fatal betrayal in Brüggemann’s conception which is beyond redemption at that point.
Finally, in Maria’s case, her self-professed sacrifice is practically a perverse suicidal mission, even if God does exist, how on earth dare she take it for granted that her so-called sacrifice is approved by God? If that is the shortcut to heaven, a massive hunger strike might sound perfectly advisable for devotees who cannot wait to join him in Elysium, it is just loony and irresponsible, that’s it, enough is enough, this film is a self-contradictory mishmash, and my only condolence is to its competent cast, they must rehearse a great deal to accomplish each scene of stations, only all their collective effort fritters away in the disappointing end product.