One film that annoyed me in this year’s Rendez-vous with French Cinema series was “Jeannette: the Childhood of Joan of Arc,” written and directed by Bruno Dumont and now in commercial release.

It is certainly a valid idea to reach back to examine the development of Joan of Arc and see what impelled her to follow the path that led to her heroism and becoming a legend. But although exquisitely shot to capture the ambiance of the French countryside in 1425, the film becomes numbing.

We first meet Jeannette when she is eight and tending sheep. (The director has used non-actors.) I suppose if one is steeped in religion the film could connect emotionally. But I quickly tired of this kid singing and praying, singing and praying, and already at an early age obsessively devoted to God above anything else. It is the same as she grows up in different stages (embodied by different casting). More singing and praying. The film is being touted as a musical.

We follow her trajectory with her child and adult relationships, including with twin nuns, until ultimately she mounts a horse and sets out to do battle in the still-raging Hundred Years’ War. The rest is history but at least we don’t have to endure more of a kid singing and praying. Posted April 13, 2018.

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