The Calling (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/04/2010

One out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Poorly directed and badly written, this is a dismal drama that struggles to find the right tone, fails to push any emotional buttons and wastes a talented cast in the process.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Jan Dunn (Gypo), The Calling stars Emily Beecham as Joanna, an attractive young woman who goes against the wishes of her mother (Amanda Donohoe) and her horrified best friend (Chloe Sirene) when she decides to join a closed order of Benedictine nuns in Ramsgate. Believing she's had a calling since she was a child, Joanna thinks she'll find spiritual peace when she joins the order, but she's unprepared for the hotbed of soapy melodrama that awaits her.

It soon turns out that Joanna's spiritual conviction unnerves the other nuns (including Rita Tushingham as the football-mad Sister Gertrude, Susannah Harker as the promiscuous Sister Ambrose and Pauline McLynn as the terminally grumpy Sister Hilda), who give her an extremely frosty welcome and quickly make it clear they'd rather she wasn't there. However, she finds support and encouragement in the kindly attentions of Sister Ignatius (Brenda Blethyn) and determines to remain in the convent.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the script veers all over the place trying to find the right tone and never quite manages it – one minute it's a farce, complete with an overly jaunty, almost Benny Hill-like soundtrack, the next it's a soapy melodrama, covering issues such as abortion, suicide, pregnancy and terminal illness in rapid succession.

Similarly, the supposedly funny scenes fall horribly flat and the film completely wastes its talented cast by giving them nothing interesting to do. That said, Beecham makes a sweetly appealing lead as Joanna and there's reliably good work from Blethyn, while Harriet Thorpe almost steals the entire film as the narrator, Consuela, who also happens to be Joanna's mother's maid and companion.

The Worst
On top of that, the editing and direction are all over the place, to the point where scenes that are meant to be shocking or upsetting are completely stripped of any emotional impact at all.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Calling is something of a disaster, thanks to dodgy direction and a dreadful script that fails to divine the right tone. One to avoid.

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The Calling (15)
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Content updated: 22/10/2017 18:34

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