France, 1765. The young offspring of an affluent family, Suzanne Simonin (Étienne), is sent to a nunnery with a secret in tow. There she falls under the tyrannical spell of Isabelle Huppert's fierce mother superior.
Based on a controversial 18th-century novel by Denis Diderot (formerly filmed by Jacques Rivette), this follows the agonies of a teen girl pushed towards convent life by her aristo family. She scandalously refuses her calling, then learns she’s illegitimate and gets forced into convents ruled by sadists and seducers. Like the recent The Monk, from another lurid novel, the film chooses solemnity, but with even less satisfying results. It’s initially interesting, but wanes with the second round of tortures; it finally resembles a caricatured misery memoir, and even a turn from Isabelle Huppert feels tacky.
A strangely drab adaptation of Diderot's much racier novel.