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Review: The Divine Order

The Divine Order (Die göttliche Ordnung) tells the story of women’s suffrage in Switzerland. I had no idea that the women there didn’t get the right to vote until 1971. As to the title, Swiss political and religious leaders of the time actually cited “the divine order” as the reason to keep them voiceless. Unbelievable! But fear not, this is not a heavy feminist screed, it’s a warm character driven dramedy about a group of women who buck the patriarchy and force their husbands to wake up and give them the vote. The film is Switzerland’s foreign-language Oscar entry and it’s a totally eye-opening and fun #GirlPower flick!

The protagonist is Nora (Marie Leuenberger), a young mother who lives in a small remote village. The social changes of the 60s have roiled the world, but her life has remained the same, and she begins to feel very constricted in her marriage. She wants to take a job, but Swiss law says that her right to work is up to her husband who doesn’t think she needs to do anything but housework. But then on a trip into Zurich she comes across a Women’s Rights group handing out literature and finds out about a referendum coming up to give women the right to vote. She’s inspired to join the movement, and before you know it she has the women in her town striking to force their husbands to vote for the referendum. Kind of a Swiss Lysistrata.

The group of women is absolutely wonderful, eventually expanding to encompass most of the women in the village, including one older woman who’s been fighting the fight for decades. There is one hilarious scene at a consciousness raising session with a yoga guru urging the women to love their vaginas that is worth the price of admission alone. There are also wonderful touches in the film like Nora’s sons and father-in-law who have to get used to not having a woman there at their beck and call and have to learn to cook for themselves! Marie Leuenberger is absolutely wonderful as Nora, coming more and more into her own as the film progresses. All in all The Divine Order shows what is possible when a group of people fight for what’s right. It’s uplifting and ultimately heart-warming. I highly recommend it.

[Mainstream Chick weighs in: I also thoroughly enjoyed The Divine Order. As foreign films go, this one is totally mainstream accessible! I’m still flabbergasted that women in Switzerland didn’t have the right to vote until 1971. The film starts out feeling a bit like a documentary about the women’s lib movement, then shifts into more conventional movie mode with an appealing cast of characters and subplots. It’s on my short list for best foreign language films this awards season! -hb]

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