Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross is made up of 14 segments, each filmed in a single long and often static take, where meticulous compositions and dry performances drive a biting look at fundamentalist Catholicism and domineering parenting, as well as the surrounding secular society that fails to properly intervene when one young girl takes the notion of sacrifice for following God’s will too far.
It opens with a priest instructing Maria (Van Acken) and other 14 year-olds on the meaning of sacrifice, and then follows the girl’s progress through a stubborn, initially vague journey as the already withdrawn and wilting child becomes even more isolated and dangerously weak. Each segment is named after one of the Stations of the Cross, a series of artistic representations of Jesus's crucifixion. The exact tragic reasoning behind her intended sacrifice is best left unspoiled, though what lingers most from the film is its darkly comic register. Notably, Brüggemann achieves this without mocking his film's subjects. The serious handling of each character’s rationalisations is what both amuses and unsettles. [Josh Slater-Williams]