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Therese
(PG, 96 min.)
Selected theaters

Thursday, October 07, 2004
Copyright © Las Vegas Mercury

Therese

Saints come yawning in

It's no surprise that Therese, the film version of the popular Story of a Soul, was made by a Catholic production company. It feels stitched together by nuns kneeling in prayer.

Director Leonardo Defilippis' luscious-looking period piece purports to tell the story of Therese of Lisieux, a troubled woman who died at age 24 in 1897, and became perhaps the most popular saint of modern times. (There's a church in Henderson named after her.)

Patti Defilippis' screenplay has us first meeting Therese Martin at age 4 as she witnesses the death of her mother. She grows into a beautiful 14-year-old (in the form of Lindsay Younce, who's about as 14 as Paris Hilton). She's a kind kid, good to her siblings, whom she hugs a lot, and her father (played by the director), to whom she keeps saying, "I love you, papa." But she's always on the verge of some kind of emotional meltdown. (At one point, she tells Papa that she's evil 'cause she took the biggest cake at dinner. I was praying daddy would belt her one to make her snap out if it.)

By age 15, she decides she's ready to join her older sister in the convent as a Carmelite nun. Though the work is hard, she stays smiley-faced--until she starts to cough. Now, we all know that when a lead movie character coughs, it's time to start shopping for coffins. And sure enough, our little cherub develops tuberculosis. But she's still happy. Her last words, between bouts of spitting up blood, are, "My God, I love you."

If Therese were a human being, prey to temptations, this movie might make sense. But here she's a virgin princess from a stained-glass window whose every word is catechism kitsch. This is the sort of movie parochial-school boys will want to draw moustaches on. They deserve our forgiveness.--Anthony Del Valle


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