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Agnes Of God 1985 PG-13 CC

(78) IMDb 6.6/10

A young nun's sanity is questioned when she is accused of giving birth and murdering the child. Jane Fonda and Anne Bancroft co-star.

Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft
1 hour, 39 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Mystery
Director Norman Jewison
Starring Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft
Supporting actors Meg Tilly, Anne Pitoniak, Winston Rekert, Gratien Gélinas, Guy Hoffmann, Gabriel Arcand, Françoise Faucher, Jacques Tourangeau, Janine Fluet, Deborah Grover, Michele George, Samantha Langevin, Jacqueline Blais, Françoise Berd, Mimi D'Estée, Rita Tuckett, Lillian Graham, Norma Dell'Agnese
Studio Columbia Pictures
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 24 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Stephen M. Bauer on July 12, 2002
Format: DVD
Agnes of God has a very tight script, plot and cinematography. It is gripping from end to end. The film is not about religion but about the inter-personal and intra-personal conflicts of a psychiatrist, the mother superior of a community of nuns and one of her young nuns.
Set in Montreal, the movie opens with a very young, pretty nun being discovered unconscious and splattered with a lot of blood. A dead newborn baby is also discovered in the room.
Presumably, unknown to anyone, the nun, Sister Agnes (Meg Tilly), had been pregnant, and she strangled the baby immediately upon its birth. She is charged with manslaughter.
A psychiatrist, Dr. Martha Livingston (Jane Fonda), is summoned by the court to make a diagnosis of the woman. Initially Dr. Livingston resisted the assignment, because she said, it was an open and shut case. The community of nuns is cloistered, and for Dr. Livingston to do her job, she must penetrate the world of the cloister. She is not at all congenial or sympathetic towards the nuns. It turns out she has her own emotional ax to flail against the church.
Mother Miriam Ruth (Anne Bankcroft), the mother superior of the convent, is equally hostile to Dr. Livingston. She is adamantly opposed to having a psychiatrist diagnose Sister Agnes, but she has no choice since it is a legal matter. She is faced with the dilemma of sending her young charge go to jail or the nuthouse. Later on, it comes out that the prioress has been keeping a few secrets of her own related to the issue.
Everyone denies knowing the girl was pregnant. No one has any idea how it happened. Its obvious the postulate/novice is suffering from a serious psychiatric illness, or several. She has the social and emotional development of a naïve grade school child.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Hallstatt Prince on June 14, 2005
Format: DVD
This is an interesting film that raises the questions as to whether miracles still exist in the modern world. The movie and play were criticized by some as being an attack on Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. Catholics have a good reason to be wary of broadsides from popular culture but sometimes these condemnations take the form of a knee jerk reaction. I for one found the movie a good debate about religion and spirituality and I found the movie to be highly moving and faith affirming.

The story concerns a young novitiate in a secluded convent in Canada who becomes pregnant and whose baby is killed.

The government is put in a difficult position since even though Canada has a large Catholic population a crime has been committed which must be investigated.

Jane Fonda, in one of her best roles, plays the neurotic psychiatrist Martha Livingstone who is sent to investigate the incident. The psychiatrist is not completely objective as she is what some might call "a fallen Catholic", someone who has unfortunately been harmed by religion. And she has an ax to grind.

Her nemesis (although "nemesis might be too strong of a word) is the mother superior of the convent played by Anne Bancroft. Her performance is also magnificent. Although the mother superior obstructs the investigation some of the most interesting dialogue about faith is between the psychiatrist and the mother superior. Both women almost more interested in Agnes to justify their own vocations and points of view as they are about getting to the truth.

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Ellington VINE VOICE on October 7, 2008
Format: DVD
I am a huge fan of ambiguity; honestly, for I think that a movie that moves you to question what you think you know is beyond important. It challenges our views of certainty and challenges us to contemplate a reality different than the one we have already accepted as definite. Because of this I can't really come down too hard on `Agnes of God' for trying to be just that. Sadly, the film doesn't fully accomplish the task, but it is a valiant effort at least.

The film revolves around a young nun, Sister Agnes, who violently gives birth to a child and then murders the baby. Psychologist Dr. Martha Livingston is given the task of determining whether or not Agnes is crazy, but in order to get to Agnes she has to go through the overly protective Mother Miriam Ruth. Martha has her own quorums with faith and religion that move her to butt-heads with Mother Miriam, but it is apparent that both want what is best for Agnes, they just both see a different answer to the question of `what is best'.

I'm yelling SPOILERS even though I don't really think that they are.

The problem I have with this particular films ambiguities is that they don't really validate themselves. We are meant to believe that there are two viable options to Agnes's conception; namely that she was unfaithful to god by having relations with a man, or that she was divinely impregnated. Dr. Livingston looks at things logically while Mother Miriam is insistent that the child was a child of god. The mere fact that the birth resulted in the murder of a child somewhat disputes Mother Miriam's whole argument and thus leaves the audience conflicted, for they want to embrace to possibility but are unable to, for accepting it would seem morally wrong; as if to admit that god would choose such an unstable vessel.
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