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The Act of the Heart
|The Act of the Heart|
|Directed by||Paul Almond|
|Produced by||Paul Almond
|Written by||Paul Almond|
|Music by||Harry Freedman|
|Edited by||James Mitchell|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|November 24, 1970|
Martha Hayes (Geneviève Bujold) is a devoutly religious young woman from Québec's Côte-Nord who fancies herself as some kind of a saint. She has come to Montréal to serve as a nanny to Russell (Bill Mitchell), the son of a widowed business woman (Monique Leyrac).
Martha joins a church choir and becomes attracted to Father Michael Ferrier (Donald Sutherland), an Augustinian monk who has selected her to sing solo in an interfaith concert. Russell accidentally dies. Martha suffers a crisis in faith and to Ferrier declares her love for him. Ferrier reciprocates and leaves the order so they can live together with Martha singing to support them. She is tormented by guilt for betraying her profound religious principles she immolates herself on a hill (Mount Royal) overlooking Montréal.
The second of three films by Almond featuring Bujold, it aroused considerable difference in opinion upon its release, but it stands nonetheless as a profound statement on the universal themes of ritual, sacrifice and purification. A disappointment at the box-office, it nevertheless won six Canadian Film Awards - including Direction (Almond) and Lead Actress (Bujold). ‘Act of the Heart is the first Canadian feature film that compares in artistic quality and importance with the best of our literature, painting and music.’ – John Hofsess, Maclean’s.
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