‘Sister Patchouli’: the Director, the Star, and the Scene

sister patchouli
the Director
Scott Thompson sneaks up on you. This is the third movie of his that I have
seen, and once again I thought, okay, light-hearted romp, boy meets girl,
happily ever after. And once again I was wrong! Oh, it’s a happy ending,
but with just fifteen minutes left in the movie, he whacks the viewer over
the head with a scene that brings the entire movie together, and at the
same time, speaks to something way beyond a mere movie. The credits
roll, and you end up sitting there with a slack jaw.
His message is not “deep”, in the sense of confusing, or hard to understand,
but it does reveal his understanding of, and ability to portray, the
very essence of what every human needs- love.
Writer and director Scott Thompson has set the stage in Fairfield Iowa,
where Sister Patchouli, daily, “heals” the people of the town.  Daniel the
drunk is now 9 days sober, thanks to ‘Patch’. Douglas, the Gulf War vet
has rid himself of his suicidal tendencies because of Patch. Vanessa,
who is worried about her test results, has Patch to lean on. So who is
this Sister Patchouli? A cutting edge psycho-therapist? Discoverer of
a miracle anti-depressant? No, just someone whose listening ear never
tires. Someone who has a kind word. Someone who dispenses love for
these people, and is there for them, when no one else is. Scott has made
a love story with a twist.
the Star
Sondra Ward is ‘Sister Patchouli’ of course. Suffice it to say that this role
was made for her. Patch, as can be seen from the start of the movie, is
beginning to run on empty. As she dispenses daily her caring love to the
residents of this town, her own reservoir is running dry. Without the
love and approval of her Mother, she is questioning her own
worth and purpose. Enter Jake. He cracks the veneer of this woman,
and this begins a recovery process of her own, that will allow her to
continue. (Hey, its not like a rock has to fall out of the sky and hit her
on the head for her to notice the handsome Jake.)
Sondra Ward carries the picture effortlessly. Oh, the supporting cast
was phenomenally strong, Fairfield evidently has a bucketful of players.
I can think of 5 that could Star tomorrow, but with 15 minutes left in the
movie, Sondra stamps it, seals it, and makes it her own!
How does anyone describe what a “star” is? All I have been able to figure
out, is that she has these big expressive eyes, a stylized quirkiness, and the
most exquisitely inflective voice since Grace Kelly.
the Scene   
Jake and the reluctant Patch, have met at the café for a “get to know each
other lunch”. Jake explains who he is, and asks Patch who she is. Patch
begins a soliloquy, that ends up revealing as much to herself, as it does to
Jake. Sondra was in a zone. The chemistry between Jake and Patch, probably
was the “umph” that nails it.
Patch begins to explain who she is, “I’m, hmm… I’m this. I love people,
I love helping people, I love having friends….”
For nearly 2 minutes, she reveals to herself, and Jake, that her life hasn’t
been a lie, that she has been true to herself, that she does love, and IS
worthy of Jake’s love. And when she accepts Jake’s love, this allows her to
continue to be the wellspring for Fairfield.
I assume this is what they mean by a “gutsy” performance. To the non-actor,
it looks terrifying to be so emotionally naked on the big screen. The emotion
overcomes you, as this moment of human triumph makes your heart swell.
I’m sure there are more powerful examples in cinema, that look at the nature
of love, though none come to mind at the moment. Sondra “left it on the court”
in this one.
Sister Patchouli: 4 stars
Beau Flecks
[a look at the rest of this incredible cast, and the score,  will follow]

About Iowa Life

Experiencing life in Iowa.
This entry was posted in Movies & the Arts in Iowa and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to ‘Sister Patchouli’: the Director, the Star, and the Scene

  1. Iowa says:

      Just an added note about Sister Patchouli.    We just learned that
    it won Best Feature for this year\’s FuzzB Holiday Family Film Festival
    which airs online on Dec 20-22nd. Additionally, one of our actresses,
    Helena-Grace Treadwell ("Hayley") got the nod from them for Best

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