Paradise: Faith

Director: Ulrich Seidl
Year Released: 2012
Rating: 1.0

A deeply-repressed missionary (Maria Höfstatter) all but forces herself into other peoples' homes with a statue of the Virgin Mary trying to get them to be as sanctimonious as her (she's also fond of physical mortification) - turns out she's no innocent, as her husband, a crippled Muslim (Nabil Saleh) returns home one day and she rejects his amorous advances, refuses to let him watch TV and fights with him. If Seidl's intention is to reveal the hypocritical nature of fiercely religious individuals, that point is not only shallow but apparent almost immediately - his 'style' is built around condescension and thinly-veiled disgust towards his subjects, which is made so clear when he films Höfstatter's frumpy character masturbates with a crucifix and when he gazes impassively at Saleh's paraplegic struggling to pull himself onto a bed. Watching this a few days after Mungiu's far superior and nuanced Beyond the Hills - which also deals with sexual repression in a religious context - didn't help.