Directed by a devout Catholic filmmaker, funded and distributed by a faith-based production company and scored by a cloistered Carmelite nun, this biography of the modern-day saint Therese of Lisieux the "Little Flower" is as reverential as anyone could wish. Lisieux, France, the late 19th century: As a child, Therese Martin (Lindsay Younce) isn't all that different from other girls her age. She misses her late mother, and even though Therese excels in catechism, she hates going to school; the other girls tease Therese for being her teachers' pet. Therese persuades her father (Leonardo Defilippis, who also directed) to allow her to quit school and be home-schooled by her oldest sister, Pauline (Linda Hayden), whom Therese calls "Mama." Therese is thrilled, but soon experiences a dizzy spell accompanied by a vision that proves to be a premonition. She sees her beloved Pauline waving goodbye shortly before she announces that she'll be entering the nearby Carmelite convent. Depressed by Pauline's absence, Therese suffers increasingly painful headaches and soon slips into a two-week-long delirium from which she unexpectedly emerges after seeing an ecstatic light radiating from her statue of the Virgin Mary. Therese's miraculous recovery, which she attributes to the Virgin Mother's intercession, is later followed by a sudden religious conversion on Christmas Eve. Therese is thereafter consumed by a desire to become a saint and save the souls of the unrepentant; her first "child" is a vicious multiple murderer named Henri Pranzini (Brian Shields). Therese prays incessantly for his salvation, and Pranzini surprises everyone by kissing the priest's crucifix moments before going to the guillotine. Now certain of her life's vocation, Therese travels to Rome and boldly petitions Pope Leo XIII (Bishop Basil Meeking) for permission to enter Carmel at the unprecedented age of 15. When her wish is finally granted, Therese bids goodbye to her father and finds her "little way" to eventual sainthood as a Carmelite nun before her death from tuberculosis at age 24. Unlike Alain Cavalier's stark, brooding THERESE (1986) or novelist Kathryn Harrison's recent psychological biography, this handsome production glosses over the stranger aspects of Therese's story and resists any attempt to see Therese as anything other than a saint. Younce, however, brings what depth she can to a perfunctory script based primarily on Therese's own best-selling autobiography, The Story of a Soul. The devout will no doubt enjoy this picturesque dramatization of an inspirational story many have known since childhood; others may understandably expect something more.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: PG
- Review: Directed by a devout Catholic filmmaker, funded and distributed by a faith-based production company and scored by a cloistered Carmelite nun, this biography of the modern-day saint Therese of Lisieux the "Little Flower" is as reverential as a… (more)