The Monastery: Mr Vig And The Nun

The Monastery: Mr Vig And The Nun


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

This is a genuinely affectionate documentary that seems to be from a forgotten age. It's at once engaging and effecting, a modern tale of internationalism, though the subject matter is almost mediaeval.

The titular Mr Vig is a Danish theologian, an elderly man who could be politely described as idiosyncratic or eccentric. In his eighties, a retired parish priest and lecturer, he is in possession of a dilapidated castle. It is his desire to have that castle become a monastery.

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The Russian Orthodox Church, specifically the Moscow Patriarchate steps in to assist. Its agent is Sister Ambrosija, a nun with a mission and a can-do attitude. She is at once intractable and giving, aloof and affectionate, and she's astonishingly interesting as a person.

She pales beside Vig. This is a tale of human interest, but about more than that, the oddities of human nature. Ambrosija is pragmatic, disarmingly tolerant, and feels truly genuine in her faith. Vig is something else, with a beard that deserves a film of its own, bizarre obsessions, idiosyncracies aplenty, and a tone and nature that make him feel like a character from Dickens ripped from London and planted, with a castle, in the middle of the Danish countryside.

This is a wonderful little film, a delightful portrait of two very different characters, and in some ways a meditation on the nature of faith and desire. The relationship between Ambrosija and Vig is difficult, touching, messy. The Monastery is a source of conflict, of shared dreams, a place of misunderstanding and frustrated destinies. A testament, a monument, to God's work here on Earth.

In English, Russian, and Danish, Vig and Ambrosija stumble over each other. By email, telephone and fax the monastery project stops and starts, and stutters, and through it all the two of them are at once completely different, and the same. People are odd creatures, perhaps none as odd as Mr Vig and the Nun.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2007
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A documentary about an old man who discovers a new side to life when he meets a young nun.
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Director: Pernille Rose Grønkjær

Starring: Sister Ambrosija, Mr. Vig

Year: 2006

Runtime: 84 minutes

Country: Denmark

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