Sister Smile (2001) Now on DVD
If you’re old enough to remember “the Singing Nun,” you may wonder whatever happened to her. If you’re not old enough, you may not want to know.
Born Jeane-Paule Marie Deckers in 1933, she entered a Dominican convent in Belgium. In 1963, as Soeur Sourire (Sister Smile) she recorded “Dominique,” which became an international hit. Four years later, the one-hit wonder left the convent and attempted to pursue a musical career. In 1985, at the age of 51, she and her companion committed suicide. Sister smiled no more.
Independent filmmaker Roger Deutsch wrote and directed Sister Smile, a biographical fantasy that attempts to fill in gaps in the life of a young woman for whom life was a disappointment. Sister Smile was filmed in Italian and there are English subtitles.
Sister Smile’s first album sold over 1.5 million copies and “Dominique” was a #1 song on the American charts. All of the proceeds went to her convent. Perhaps being famous and not being able to enjoy it (nuns take vows of poverty), or perhaps her disagreement with many of the Catholic Church’s policies, caused her to leave the convent before taking her final vows.
Very early in Sister Smile, Deckers relates a nightmare that sets the tone for the entire film. After the convent, she becomes involved in a relationship with another woman, and she reunites with her father. She is portrayed as being either an incredibly selfish, heartless bitch or a woman suffering from severe emotional illness, perhaps schizoaffective or bipolar disorder. Her friends are prostitutes and people she meets on the street, and her outlandish behavior amuses and shocks. Her relationship with her companion is pure love/hate, characterized by resentment and rebellion.Continued on the next page