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Film Of The Week Youthful determination

Lise Leplat Prudhomme excels in her second outing as the Maid of Orleans, says MARIA DUARTE

Joan of Arc
Directed by Bruno Dumont


WHAT is it about Joan of Arc that instils such passion and obsession?

Hollywood legend Ingrid Bergman, apparently obsessed with “the Maid of Orleans,” played her both on stage and screen twice, while French film-maker Bruno Dumont returns with this, a sequel to Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc – which explored Joan at the age of eight through song and music.

Also based on the play Jeanne d'Arc by Charles Peguy, Joan of Arc is a stylised drama which comes across as more theatrical than cinematic.

Lise Leplat Prudhomme reprises her role as Joan, who this time commands the King of France's army 90 years into the hundred years’ war. She believes she has been chosen by God to be his emissary on earth and is guided by the numerous saintly voices she hears in her head.

Strangely no one seems to question that. Instead they are more preoccupied with whether or not they are still advising her, concerned that they might not be.

Having defeated the English and won the French throne for Charles VII in 1431, she is tried by the Church for heresy.

With her soulful and haunting eyes Prudhomme imbues Joan with a youthful, righteous – bordering on a steely – determination to fulfil her mission from God. At her trial she puts the group of old white male religious judges – attempting to bully her into confession – firmly in their place. While happy to answer any questions on the charges of heresy levied against her, she refuses to answer any inquiries pertaining to her interactions with God or the voices.

Prudhomme does the role justice and is, of course, much closer to Joan's age than Bergman was when she played her at 33.

The problem with the film is that it focuses too much on stage theatrics and elaborate, laboured dialogue which suck the passion and life out of the work.

Available on video on demand June 19.


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