After a coma, Johanna wakes up without a memory of who she is, and a doctor who has started to get feelings for her decides that she should stay at the hospital. He trains her to become a nurse, but after some time passes, rumors go around that Johanna has a very special way of treating her patients. Soon she's hated by the doctors and nurses, but hailed as a saint by the patients.
I am in no way a fan of musicals. I enjoy few of them, and my favorite being "Cannibal! The Musical". I simply just want my musicals to either have good songs, or funny songs. "Johanna" is an opera, which is about as far from my taste in music you can come. But there was something interesting about "Johanna" that made me wanna see it. It seemed like a bleak, experimental and artistic drama, and the plot stood out from anything I could remember seeing. And this movie could've been very good had it been more plot and less opera.
At first they didn't sing, and it seemed like the movie was taking place in the middle of a catastrophe, alot of patients being treated and whatnot. We soon discover that it was just practice in case of war or catastrophe. And as soon as we learn this, the songs start rollin. From this moment on (a few minutes in) every single word in the movie is sung. Being in typical opera style, and in Hungarian, it's needless to say that I never really got "carried away" by the songs, and was just focusing on the subtitles to follow the story. Anyway, after the practice, we follow one of the girls that were volunteering to act injured as she sneaks around to steal drugs. When she gets caught and is trying to run away she falls down the stairs and falls in a coma. When she wakes up and we find out she has lost her memory, the doctor that chased her decides to keep her at the hospital and train her to become a nurse. After some training she is on her own, and this is where the interesting plot comes in. Johanna has sex with her patients and this somehow heals them, hence she is then hailed as a saint by them. When the rumors about her having sex with them is spreading to the rest of the staff, they try to put a stop to it.
My problem with this movie is mostly that the singing takes up so much of the time that the film never has time to stand still and focus on the things that are going on. At first it has a good pace, to lay the ground work, but as soon as we start noticing that she has sex with her patients, the entire movie just gets high on speed. I would've liked it to work more on the part where the doctors and nurses find out about her. By the time the movie ended, all I could think was, "is that it?". Which is NEVER a good thing. Ever.
What I do like about this film though, is the atmosphere, the set design and the acting by the beautiful Orsi Tóth who plays Johanna. Thanks to these things, I didn't regret that I watched it. It had alot of potential to be a real classic if the main focus was the plot and not the songs. I would've prefered if there was standard talking between the songs too, because it would make each song more special.
Overall it's a decent watch if you want to watch something original. It's a very experimental twist on the story of Jeanne D'Arc and if you enjoy musicals you might like this movie alot more than I did. Atleast it was nice to watch a musical as bleak and dark as this one, and it was also refreshing to mix in sex with all of that. Anyway.. Take the movie for what it is. I'm sure it won't hurt you to watch something out of the Hollywood-norm.