Ah, the teenage years. They’re hard enough to get through as it is, but when you live in a very religious family that thinks everything about the modern world is evil, the teen awkwardness goes through the roof. This is exactly what 14 year old Maria (Lea von Acken) is going through in Stations Of The Cross. She is constantly warned about the dangers and temptations of the world to lure her away from enlightenment, but she plans to avoid this by going one step further than most: to sacrifice her life and become a saint so her mute little brother can have the ability to talk.
From her mother’s anger towards Maria’s carefree attitude to minor things like not wearing a sweater in cold weather to wanting to listen to soul and gospel music, which would be considered tame music by most peoples’ standards, but is flat out evil by their’s. Apparently Roxette’s music is considered to be “Satanic music” too when Maria complains about it during a PE class, and the school bullies claim they can’t do the exercise as its against their religion (I admit, this bit made me laugh). But Maria’s biggest temptation is a boy at school, ironically named Christian (Moritz Knapp), who has pure intentions and just wants to get to know her better, but she knows he will deviate her from her path to sainthood.
There are only 14 shots in the whole film, each shot for each scene. This is one of the most stoic films you will ever see, compared to all the fast movement and camerawork of most films, and that, as well as its subject matter, what makes Stations Of The Cross really stand out. It’s both astounding on both a technical and philosophical level, grabbing your attention with its minimalist yet captivating look and the characters’ blind devotion to their faith.
Whether you are religious or not, Stations Of The Cross is a fascinating tale of a young girl’s confused misunderstanding of balancing her family’s religious beliefs with what’s going on in the world and is currently playing as part of the Audi German Film Festival.
Originally published here at milkbarmag.com on Wednesday 20 May 2015