The Divine Order

The Divine Order

(Die göttliche Ordnung)

Women of a small Swiss village campaign for the women's right to vote ahead of the crucial 1971 ballot in this inspirational film.... More

"A young wife and mother living in a small village untouched by the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s, Nora lives a quiet life. But she's encouraged by the actions of a formidable group of like-minded women to fight for her rights. The group of women band together in their small Swiss village and campaign for the right to vote, undeterred by the retaliations of their conservative neighbours. With a fantastic ensemble cast, Petra Volpe's stirring film shines a light on a battle for justice and a historic, overdue victory." (Sydney Film Festival)Hide

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Flicks Review

Set in 1971 in a remote Swiss town, The Divine Order follows housewife Nora as she undergoes a feminist awakening, and sets about trying topple the patriarchy. Or at least, help get women the right to vote. As the film points out, New Zealand had already changed its laws, so why hadn’t Switzerland?... More

Pointing out the horrors of the very recent past, Mad Men-style, is the aim of the game here. The town has been sheltered from by the cultural revolution happening in other parts of the world, and Nora quickly comes up against the bad opinions of a lot of grumpy men.

It’s a worthy reminder, even if writer/ director Petra Volpe is painting with a brush the width of a hornussen field. One scene has Nora reading a book on women’s suffrage, eyes full of wonder as the soundtrack swells. Clumsy, yes, but elsewhere Volpe shows flashes of righteous anger. The men in this film really are complete shits.

And she takes time to illustrate the way misogyny is perpetuated. The invective directed at Nora is most unsettling when it’s coming from her own young sons, already well aware of their privilege. Later their grandfather will tell one of them “Don’t start crying, you’re not a girl”.

The Divine Order stays relatively cheerful before tumbling into melodrama in its final third. It wants to be a crowd pleaser, but it keeps running headfirst into cliché, exemplified by music choices like “Respect” and “You Don’t Own Me”. That over-familiarity tends to mute any real emotion.

Things end on an uplifting note (spoiler: women have it slightly better now), but also on the culmination of a frankly sexual plot strand that feels very European. It’s the one edgy element in this remarkably safe film.Hide

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The Press Reviews

  • Though the film’s feel-good construction undercuts its ability to surprise, Petra Volpe’s cine-history lesson remains a mainstream crowd-pleaser adept at inspiring and amusing in equal measure. Full Review

  • Overall its shortcomings are ably papered over by the zeitgeist button-pushing… Full Review

  • [A] good-humoured comedy-drama... Full Review

  • If the story beats are familiar, writer/director Petra Biondina Volpe elevates them with an unerring focus on character, while the excellent ensemble deliver a genuine sense of sisterhood. Full Review

  • "The Divine Order" effectively illustrates how peer pressure can influence the political process. Full Review

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