Movie review: Gardening with Soul

By Sarah Lang

1 comment
Sister Loyola Galvin in Gardening with Soul. Photo / Dion Howard
Sister Loyola Galvin in Gardening with Soul. Photo / Dion Howard

A film-festival favourite, this documentary about a nonagenarian nun is now releasing nationwide. Don't worry: it's far more interesting than it sounds.

For decades, Sister Loyola Galvin has grown vegetables to feed her fellow Sisters at Wellington's Home of Compassion. The work has kept her fit, purposeful and connected. We watch her 90th year unfold through the prism of her garden, starting in winter and ending in autumn. Talking as she works, Sister Loyola tells us about her childhood milking cows with her beloved father, losing her sweetheart in World War II, her struggle to become a nurse, joining the Sisters, and caring for disabled children at the Home. She is wonderfully candid and clear-eyed on contemporary issues and has many insights on ageing, acceptance, and leading a compassionate life.

Film-maker Jess Feast isn't afraid to enter the frame when needed, asking questions and accompanying Sister Loyola to a memorial to stillborn children from her stint as Hutt Hospital chaplain. The visit of a woman that Sister Loyola helped raise is another poignant moment. This is a beautifully shot gem about an extraordinary woman who has touched many lives and hearts.

G; 100 minutes. Out now.
Stars: 4.5/5

- Herald on Sunday

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