The Austin Chronicle

Knocks at My Door

Not rated, 105 min. Directed by Alejandro Saderman. Starring Veronica Oddo, Elba Escobar, Juan Carlos Gene, Jose Antonio Rodriguez, Frank Spano.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., July 12, 1996

Two Catholic nuns, Sisters Ana and Ursula, find their faith put to the ultimate test when they decide to help a desperate fugitive -- a young, idealistic rebel on the run from sadistic military forces -- by allowing him to hide in their home until the immediate danger has passed. That decision eventually lands them smack dab in the middle of a political pressure-cooker and puts both their lives and ethics on the line. This is the intriguing yarn spun by the highly acclaimed, well-acted 1993 Venezualan import Knocks at My Door, a flawed but ultimately worthwhile melodrama helmed with great integrity and compassion by former documentary filmmaker-turned-feature film director Alejandro Saderman. Deceptively modest in its narrative scope, the movie, with its emphasis on issues of faith, religion, and politics, is actually quite ambitious thematically. And while it's certainly true that Saderman's thematic reach occasionally exceeds his directorial grasp, and that the picture's flat visual style often skates dangerously close to resembling that of a filmed play, there's no denying that Knocks at My Door is truly one from the heart, and that the film gains much emotional power from Saderman's overwhelming passion to see this particular story told. Thankfully, it's a good story, one worth telling, and, if you can excuse a few instances of embarrassingly heavy-handed dialogue and a supremely frustrating, downright stupid second-act plot device (which I won't reveal here, but let's just say that it involves Sister Ursula, and you'll probably know it when you see it), one well worth watching as well.

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