#8: Of all the films in my top ten this year, The Holy Girl is the one I'm most ambivalent about. I have seen it twice and liked it better on second viewing. However my fondness for it is more theoretical than passionate. The experience of watching Martel's film has been pleasurable but strangely distanced, sort of like reading a long poem or certain tomes of German philosophy. I get a concept, and then later on I need that concept to understand the next one I'm being confronted with, only to find it has floated out of my brain. During its running time I am floored by Martel's graceful direction and her film's delicate, hovering camerawork. But it is a non-linguistic, non-narrative appreciation, one of suspended moments.

There's no question in my mind that The Holy Girl is a very good piece of cinema. But something about its form militates against its sticking with me. It evaporates. Granted, many experimental films do this, but Martel is ostensibly deploying her formal approach in the service of a story (young girl misapprehends religion, submits to frottage, all hell breaks loose). It doesn't necessarily matter to me that The Holy Girl wafts through my mind and exits in the way that, say, a Peter Hutton film does. But part of me wonders if I was supposed to be more moved by these characters and their plight, their thwarted desires. Elsewhere I have compared Martel's organization of The Holy Girl to theremin music, and to the image-symphony that Detective John Anderton "conducts" in Minority Report. But now I'm thinking that Martel has sprayed her film in the air with an atomizer. Bizarre. Just bizarre.