21 April 2001 | hilamonster
thought-provoking although simplistic
The introductory half of the film can be seen as a comedy. It's funny and not very realistic. There is, however, a poignant undercurrent of criticism of the church, of the wealthy, and of narrowmindedness, showcasing people's ability to see only what they want to see. The second half becomes much more serious as Sonja encounters hostile and uncooperative people from her hometown.
Lena Stolze is very funny and charming as the younger, naive Sonja. But the shift between her young character and her old character is too abrupt. There is very little of the curious girl and more of the martyr (one scene suggests that perhaps she herself believes she is a martyr). In her last scene she takes a role completely different from either of these, and again, the change is abrupt (although this time it seems more justified).
The film seems too basic: Either the characters do or do not support Sonja, although some characters allow her to continue her activities only up to a certain point, and other characters lovingly disapprove of them. There is no real conflict for Sonja throughout the film because the people to whom she is closest support her ideas (though not always her methods). There is a lot of obvious malice in the townspeople's actions against her. Once Sonja obtains the necessary documents, her research seems very simple -- although it may have only been the director's choice to skip the laborious details.
The visual style will inspire some and annoy others.
This is worth seeing for the acting and the message that attitudes that seem past are very much a part of the present. But the comedic elements, excessive simplicity, and theatrical style of the film detract from its powerful message.