Eye For Film >> Movies >> Johanna (2005) Film Review
Watching this film is not for the faint-hearted. It is opera, folks, but there's no fat lady singing.
There has been an accident. People in a downbeat and cavernous hospital are bleeding out left, right and centre... or are they? No matter, because next thing you know they are focussing on one of them, the eponymous heroine (Orsi Toth) who, coincidentally, is hooked on heroin. There's a lot of running - and quite a bit of singing - as she is chased by a young doctor (Zsolt Trill) down into the bowels of the hospital. She stumbles and cracks her head open but, miraculously, comes back from the jaws of death.
Once returned to the land of the living, she has no memory of anything that has gone before, so the young doc offers to take her under his wing and train her up as a nurse. Once trained, however, it turns out she has a special gift. She can heal the sick by - look away now if you're squeamish - shagging them in the dead of night. A rumour goes round the hospital that she's a saint, but none of this sits well with the rest of the staff, particularly the young doctor who has an itch that needs to be scratched, leading to an inevitable confrontation.
Oh dear. Art, or arse? Well, we certainly see plenty of Toth's behind as she orgasms elderly blokes back to health. What of the women, you begin to wonder. And let's not even consider what she's doing in the children's ward of an evening.
The original scoring and libretto is certainly hard-hitting and clever. Coupled with the bleached out grey/green institutional wasteland of the hospital, a tense and unsettling atmosphere is created. But to what affect? Not a lot.
The film is supposedly (loosely) derived from the Joan of Arc story - I must have forgotten that bit where old Joany whupped those dastardly English by shagging her way through battle. Plus, there is no real sense of heroism surrounding Toth. She has a luminous quality, it's true, but a stunning starlet does not a good film make.
Women, it seems, are either whores or saints, with the possible exception of bitches, who love to turn on their own. All very nice if you've burned your nuance along with your bra.
The Festival programme insists that writer/director Kornel Mundruczo is "not a misogynist." Could have fooled me.Reviewed on: 18 Aug 2005