a life-affirming work of sensual and spiritual discovery
Once again the two-edged sword that is religion and homosexuality raises its sharpened blade, only not as you expect in this enchanting feature from writer and director Gérald Hustache-Mathieu.
For this is the joyous story of novice Avril; a nun in the making who two weeks before taking her final vows learns that she has a brother and urged on by Sister Bernadette, uses her fortnight of holy contemplation to get to know the brother that she knew not. Only it would appear that many a surprise lies in store for her, for not only does she discover that the strict Trappistine Order which has been her life for the majority of her twenty years was actually annulled, a fact that the tyrannical Mother Superior failed
to disclose, but that her brother David is actually her twin.
Yet learning the truth was the easy part, as locating him proves more difficult, not only on account that David and his girlfriend are currently on holiday in the coastal region of Camargue in southern France, but her trusted bicycle has developed a puncture. But worry not, for God is on your side, as to her rescue arrives Pierre; a paint shop trainee who can mix the medium, but unlike Avril has not the flair to use it. Clearly smitten by the angelic qualities of the girl before him, Pierre seemingly casts his job aside and offers to take Avril to meet her brother, only for her to come face to face with David and his 'girlfriend' in the manly form of Jim! It is a meeting that is destined to change their lives forever.
As always with films of this nature, the question of how exposure to the outside world will affect the Christian commitment of a nun in the making, remains the mainstay of the piece. And suffice to say that Avril is soon to discover aspects of the world outside the convent walls, as hitherto unknown. Yet to add whether she equally discovers sides of her body, let alone the body of another would be saying. For the beauty of this feature is that Hustache-Mathieu keeps the surprises coming, not least of which is Avril's take on homosexuality; shocked not by the true nature of her brother's sexuality, but rather by his concealment of the preference itself.
To that end, Clément Sibony and Richaud Valls as lovers David and Jim give spirited, if somewhat chaste performances. Then again, this is not a work of sex, but of friendship, with Sophie Quinton as Avril and Nicolas Duvauchelle as Pierre beautifully showcasing the emotions of camaraderie essential to the heartwarming feel of the piece.
That Avril is not your typical would be nun is all but obvious, as is the fact that this is far removed from your standard cinematic offering. For this is a gay work in which homosexual intimacy takes a backseat to the refreshing tale of a young woman who comes to discover not only her fraternal brother, but also her very destiny. It is one in which the reality of secular life contrasts with religious virtue and a view of the world that whilst not entirely seen through innocent eyes, is certainly one that seeks out the best that can be found in all of us. All of which makes its graphic conclusion arrive as something of a shock. Then again, there is good reason for such, given this life-affirming work is a sheer joy to watch. Need more be said?