Movie Review – Pact of Silence (Le Pacte du Silence) (2003)

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Joachim (played by the Gibraltar-chinned Gérard Depardieu, one of the greatest actors France has produced within the last 50 years) is a priest-surgeon trying to solve the mystery of a young and beautiful Carmelite nun Sarah (played by the gorgeous Élodie Bouchez) who falls sick for mysterious reasons.

When he tries to inquire closer and help the reclusive nun, he is cut off by Mère Emmanuelle, the Mother Superior of the Order in Brazil, who tries to block and frustrate Joachim every step of the way – which of course makes Joachim even more determined to find out what’s going on with this beautiful nun.

We are also treated to a parallel story, inter-cut with this first plot line, the story of the SAME GIRL in a jail in France. Actually she had been there for the last 10 years, since age 14, for strangling a crying baby to death by pressing a pillow on his face. She is the “Killer Babysitter” that created quite a furor ten years ago. And in jail she is assaulted and harassed as a “baby killer” but she does neither cry nor try to defend herself too much.

Just when we are scratching our heads about these two very different stories sharing the same protagonist and wondering whether there is something wrong with us, we are mercifully revealed that we are actually watching the story of TWINS, Gaëlle and Sarah, who had experienced something very dramatic while they were little girls after which Gaëlle went to jail and Sarah joined the convent.

This explanation also explains the root of Sarah;s malady – every time one of the twins get sick, the other gets sick too even if she is thousands of miles away, and modern science does not seem to have a rational explanation for it.

The pace of the film picks up after Gaëlle is let loose from the jail on parole. Johaim decides to help Gaëlle even at the cost of getting expelled from the Catholic Church. After a romantic interlude which tests the Catholic priest’s wow of chastity, Joachim helps Gaëlle run away to Brazil to meet her sister.

When we learn the real story Gaëlle’s presumed (and self-confessed) crime we are as relieved as Joachim who always believed in the innocence of both sisters. However, the truth would not be enough to save Sarah.

The film comes to a sweet closure with a defrocked Joachim settling down in Brazil, marrying Gaëlle, and raising twin sons.

A tidy little French mystery and a good excuse to watch Depardieu’s acting and Bouchez’s natural beauty.

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