Sunday, 11 April 2010

No Greater Love - Cameo - 10/4/10

Michael Whyte spent 10 years trying to get access to the order of Carmelite nuns in Londons Notting Hill. It was ten years well spent as the result is a film that gives an intimate portrait of a group of women who are, at best, unknown and, possibly, unknowable.

What prompts anyone to turn their back on the world, leave their friends and family and turn, instead, to a life of isolation, dedication and poverty? For the women it would appear, on the surface, that they are motivated entirely by a deep faith and sense of obedience. They are, clearly, women who have an unshakable belief in God and who believe that dedicating themselves to Him and to Him alone is the only way that they can express that faith.

Whyte manages to show us every aspect of the lives of the nuns; the ritual, the routine, the prayer, the chores and nearly every part of their daily lives. What is most striking is the silence as the nuns speak only twice a day during dedicated recreation time and are mute for the remainder of the time. In the absence of radio, television, talking or any of the other aural distractions that we are surrounded by other sounds become more obvious; footsteps, coughs, the swish of cloth, creaking floorboards and a million other things. Whyte has clearly decided not to fill the silence and so there is no music and no commentary and the result is that we are drawn into the world of the nuns in a most intimate way.

A documentary about a group of women who live in the world but who are not of the world.

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