Johanna is a modern reworking of the Joan of Arc tale, described by one reviewer as ‘a sung-through opera in the style of Gothic-Hungarian grunge’. The film tells the story of a young drug addict who, on recovering from a coma, decides to remain in the hospital to work as a nurse. We soon find that she has special powers in healing the terminally ill, but when her unconventional methods are discovered by the hospital staff, they soon turn against her.
The muse of the piece is blonde elfin actress Orsi Toth, who has reportedly had Hollywood casting directors beating down her door since this film was unveiled in Cannes. So expect to be seeing more of her in the future.
Kornel Mundruczo expanded the idea from his short Joan of Arc of the Night Bus, and gives us a film shot with a washed-out beauty and an uncomfortably angular original modern score which suits the piece. The final images continue to haunt long after the credits roll.
If the idea of sitting through an opera puts you off, don’t let it. This is by no means a conventional piece, and if you allow yourself, you could be pleasantly surprised. JvF