THE DEVINE ORDER by Carol Kaufman Segal
The Devine Order is Switzerland’s submission for the Academy Award’s Best Foreign Language Film. It has already been the recipient of the Audience Award for Best Feature at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festive, and the Audience Award for Best Fiction Award 2017 Traverse Film Festival.
The film takes place in 1971 Switzerland, a time where many changes have come about in the world, but not so in Switzerland. In Switzerland, some laws are still behind the times, including a law that denies women the right to vote.
Nora (Marie Leuenberger) lives in a small village with her husband Hans (Maxmilian Simonischek), their two sons, and her cranky father-in-law. Bored with her daily routines, she tells Hans she wants to go back to work. He is adamant when he tells her he forbids it, and that it is his right to do so under Swiss law.
Nora has been made aware that this is the year in Switzerland that the government has a ballot measure that just might change that law in the future because, if it passes, it will finally, give women the right to vote. She has been asked to work for an organization to help get the law passed, because in her village, it appears doomed. Since she has never been political, she turns down the offer.
Suddenly, Nora begins to notice more and more how women have little “say so” in their lives, how deeply they are affected by the laws of the country. Her frustration over the situation gives her the impetus to join in the movement after all, along with the backup of an elderly friend, Vroni (Sibylle Brunner), who tells her she had tried to fight for women’s right to vote in the 50’s, but finally gave up. She is, once again, willing to help in this venture along with newcomer Graziella (Marta Zoffoli). Nora turns out to be the leader of their group and becomes well-known throughout the village. She is vilified by many, and despite having to suffer from threats and the possibility of losing Hans, she refuses to let down.
More and more women of the village come to comprehend how their lives are ruled by men and decide to take a stand with Nora and her group. She eventually convinces them to go on strike and they all leave home, happy in the realization that they were brave enough to stand up to their men. The outcome of their bravery turns out to be worthwhile for them as well as their country.
The movie is well-written by Petra Volpe who also did an exemplary job directing a strong cast. Marie Leuenberger gives an outstanding performance. The entire production is worthy of recognition.
Running time: 93 min.
In German, English, Italian and Swiss German with English sub-titles