The Divine Order

| November 16, 2017

Following a sold-out screening at the Chicago International Film Festival in October, The Divine Order – Switzerland’s official entry to the Oscars – is a total crowd-pleaser and winner of the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film is garnering critical acclaim in New York as its theatrical release expands in the coming weeks.

 

The Divine Order is set in Switzerland in 1971 where, despite the worldwide social upheavals of the previous decade, women were still denied the right to vote. When unassuming and dutiful housewife Nora (Marie Leuenberger, winner of a Best Actress award at Tribeca) is forbidden by her husband to take a part-time job, her frustration leads to her becoming the poster child of her town’s suffragette movement. Her newfound celebrity brings humiliation, threats, and the potential end to her marriage, but, refusing to back down, she convinces the women in her village to go on strike…and makes a few startling discoveries about her own liberation. Uplifting and crowd-pleasing, this charming, captivating film is a time-capsule that could not be more timely.

This cheering story also delivers winsome comedy with a timely ironic bite and a hint of nostalgia. In timidly shedding her primness and celebrating with a trendy haircut, Nora is a fed-up wife and mother of two, and her stubbornness makes her an accidental feminist firebrand, as she teams up with a closet-revolutionary matriarch and a shunned Italian divorcee to rally female friends and neighbors in pursuit of autonomy, equality and orgasms. Director Petra Volpe lets the good times roll for the newly bonded women, but things come to a head when the angry husbands invade an all-girl sleepover involving the majority of the female population

I learned a bit about world political affairs by watching this film. It was a great film, and the term “divine order” was made more evident to me. It seems that the divine order dictated that women were way behind men, and could only do certain things in Switzerland (and other parts of the world) if their husbands approved. I felt for Nora, and also applauded her—she simply wanted to break up the monotonous routine of taking care of her husband, sons and porn-obsessed father-in-law by taking up a job. While her husband secretly supported her, he was reticent to let others know, because men were pushing the women away, as they rallied for the right to vote. The time period for this film was set around the Black Power movement in the United States and all that it meant for Blacks in America.

The women’s liberation movement was also running full steam, and the women in Switzerland were taking ample note of developments overseas. During the time when Nora and her associates were gathering their supporters, they also visited a yoga studio where they were encouraged to explore their sexuality and the fact that many had never experienced an orgasm. This newfound realization helped fuel the women’s efforts for independence and freedom. At the end of the day, Nora and her female supporters merely wanted to have control of their own destinies and not have to ask their husbands for every little thing. Or in the worst case, be relegated to second-class citizens, by having to heed to every thing that their husbands dictated for them to do.

The Divine Order also stars Maximilian Simonischek and opens Friday, November 17, at the Gene Siskel Film Center for a two-week run. For more information, visit http://www.siskelfilmcenter.org/divineorder.

“Inspired and inspiring… A model for the kind of political struggle that’s now needed more than ever.”– Amy Taubin, Film Content

“An unexpected delight.”– Ren Jender, The Village Voice

“A mainstream crowd-pleaser adept at inspiring and amusing in equal measure.”– Nick Schager, Variety

About the Author:

Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago. She is the author of "Old School Adventures from Englewood--South Side of Chicago" and the proud parent of "the smart rapper"--chemist-turned-rapper, turned humanitarian...Psalm One!
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