Cinematographer Ed Lachman in person for Q&A!
Devout Catholic Anna Maria (Seidl regular Maria Hofstätter) begins each day with a bracing session of self-flagellation as she kneels before a crucifix mounted on her bedroom wall. Taking a staycation from her work as a medical technician, she goes door to door across the city, a 24-inch statue of Mary in her arms, inviting those who open their doors to join her in prayer to the Mother of God. Although she’s received with anything from passive acceptance to violent resistance, she keeps going, undaunted. One day things take an unexpected turn: Anna Maria comes home to discover that her estranged, wheelchair-bound husband has moved back in, and his background puts a whole new spin on her religious devotion—not to mention sending the film into the realm of deadpan domestic comedy as the couple embark on a tit for tat grudge match. In contrast to the worldly appetites of her sister, Teresa in Paradise: Love, Anna Maria finds fulfillment in doing the Lord’s work, even as God tests her faith to breaking point: but it’s all too easy to write her off as another casualty of religious repression. Seidl give his protagonist her due, never suggesting that she is anything less than sincere and genuine in her concern for the souls of her fellow brothers and sisters. As ever, the director leaves viewers to make up their own minds.