“Vision,” the new Margarethe von Trotta film about 12th-century Benedictine nun and Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen, isn’t the historical waxworks I feared it might be. Although von Trotta seems to regard von Bingen – played with a cool ferocity by Barbara Sukowa – as some sort of medieval feminist precursor, there are enough fault lines in the portrayal to subvert hagiography.
The von Bingen of this movie is as imperious, and as secure in the authenticity of her visions, as Joan of Arc, but she is also an expert political manipulator who managed to assert herself even with the pope. When she intones that “first our souls must be healed and then the body can follow,” you’d better believe her. The film’s only major fault is its way-too-abrupt finale. Most movies have several endings too many. This one doesn’t really end at all. Grade: B+ (Unrated.)
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