Release Date: August 29th, 2007 (Film Forum) by Koch Lorber Films.
Directed by Pernille Rose Grønkjær.
In English, Danish and Russian with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Mr.Vig, an elderly man who tries to convince the Russian Orthodox Church to turn his dilapidated castle into a monastery with the help of some nuns and a novice.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: At the heart of this wonderfully endearing documentary lies Mr.Vig, a very interesting, complex old man with no wife or kids. His life-long dream is to turn the castle he bought 50 years ago into a monastery and to donate it to the Roman Catholic Church. All he has to do is to get their approval. As simple as that sounds, it actually gets quite complicated once Sister Amvrosya, a nun, and her crew, consisting of other nuns and a novice, show up to see if the castle were in top shape. They quickly find many problems all stemming from a leaky ceiling and faulty construction design. Tensions arise when Mr.Vig and Sister Amvrosya argue about the severity of the problems—Mr.Vig doesn’t seem to take criticism too well and has a stubborn disposition. Fortunately, director Pernille Rose Grønkjær doesn’t linger too much on all the bickering and includes non-preachy, humanizing interviews with Mr.Vig so that you get to know about his daily lifestyle and past. Grønkjær wisely asks the right questions such about his lack of a love life and what his relationship was like with his mother and father. Along with its splendid cinematography, consistently compelling subject matter, and attention to detail, The Monastery manages to be captivating and never overstays its welcome at an appropriate running time of 84 minutes.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: It’s quite thought-provoking how someone such as Mr.Vig can live in solitude for so many years and still be happy. He doesn’t even have any pets. What he does have, though, is a dream to turn his castle into a monastery and to donate it to the Roman Catholic Church. It’s quite inspiring to watch him try his best—throughout all his stubbornness—to fulfill it. This dream gives him a purpose to his life and, most importantly, it shows that he’s a generous man with a big heart.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 0
IN A NUTSHELL: A captivating, inspiring and endearing documentary.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater
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