Hadewijch”: the complex and disconcerting work of a director to claim

Premiered in 2009 after going through the San Sebastian Festival, Hadewijch It is one of the most stimulating works of French Bruno Dumont for being able to house, within an intense story about faith and passion, most of the identity traits that make its director one of the most complex authors on the contemporary film scene. But also, for showing a more flexible version of his distinctive formal elements. All at the service of a surprising, bewildering, and ultimately moving film.

Criticism of ‘Hadewijch’

Data sheet

Qualification: Hadewijch
Original title: Hadewijch

Julie Sokolowski (Celine vel Hadewijch)
David Dewaele (David)
Yassine Salim (Yassine Chikh)
Brigitte Mayeux-Clerget (mother superior)
Karl Sarafidis (Nassir Chikh)

Year: 2009
Duration: 105 minutes
Country: France
Director: Bruno Dumont
Script: Bruno Dumont
Photography: Yves Cape
Music: eric gleizer
Gender: Drama. Religion



Trailer for ‘Hadewijch’


Overwhelmed by the blind faith and fervor of the young Hadewijch novice, the mother superior sends her out of the convent. Hadewijch then becomes Céline again, a twenty-year-old girl, the daughter of a diplomat. Her passionate love for God, her inner rage, and her encounter with Yassine and Nassir lead her down dangerous paths.

A cinema of opposites

There are those who maintain that the cinema of Bruno Dumont it is a constant dialogue between opposites (love and hate, good and evil…) that always concludes that these are sides of the same coin. The certain thing is that this idea crosses the totality of the works that precede Hadewijch and in this film it is present in a very particular way, as it manifests itself in the form of a debate on faith, an issue that fascinates Dumontwho despite being openly atheist, is very interested in spirituality and the transcendental.

Hadewijch presents us with the story of Céline (julie sokolowski), a young French woman who lives in a nunnery, but whose exacerbated passion for God means she is expelled from the temple and returns to Paris with the aim of alleviating her uncontrolled faith. However, it will be in the capital of the country where she will discover that fanaticism is nothing more than a bridge between love and hate.

hadewijch film

Dumont as never, Dumont as always

In the film there are very recognizable elements of the work of Bruno Dumontsuch as the commitment to non-professional actors who give very surprising results, the minimal dialogue to avoid over-explanation, the very reduced action in search of contemplation, the use of scenarios that reflect the feelings of their characters or long-lasting shots. that challenge the viewer… It could be understood Hadewijch, therefore, as a good synthesis of what his work is. However, Dumont He is ambitious, reconsidering formal positions such as the choice of his image format, betting on a closed 1.66:1 instead of his usual 2.35:1, much wider, or the insertion of extra-diegetic music in the final stretch, which increases the drama the closing of the film.

And it is perhaps precisely because of the conviction with which Bruno Dumont seems to get the movie on track, which Hadewijch It is one of his most accomplished and powerful works. Completely removed, as always, from the sociological study, the director proposes a very particular film that reflects, among other things, on the corruption of faith by religious powers and to which the sum of all the staging attributes allows achieve that feeling of mysticism so longed for by the French filmmaker (present, for example, in l’humanité), especially in a resolution of overwhelming emotion.

Whoever expects answers will very possibly be disappointed, because the one who Dumont it is a cinema that shies away from expectations and does not seek to reaffirm the viewer. Hadewijch It is to all intents and purposes a representative film of a more sensorial than elemental conception of art and, if we refer to the facts, its author is a master at it.

hadewijch film

Conclusion of ‘Hadewijch’

In a cinematographic panorama dominated by works of hasty consumption and even faster digestion, it becomes very important to vindicate authors such as Bruno Dumontwhose films are always stimulating, among other things, due to their very particular look at human existence and their formal radicalism. Hadewijchlike other of his great works such as l’humanité, is an excellent example of what the French director’s films offer. A valuable piece that shows his relevance as an author.


Hadewijch”: the complex and disconcerting work of a director to claim