Reel American HistoryHistory on trial Main Page

AboutFilmsFor StudentsFor TeachersBibliographyResources

Films >> Yo, La Peor De Todas (I, The Worst of All) (1990) >>

The movie was shown in the United States in 1992 at the Seattle International Festival of Films by Woman Directors and was released in 1995 at select theaters.  The reviews were mixed, but most of them focused on the feminist message that the film conveys through its heroine.

Butler, Robert. "I, the Worst of All: A True Story in More than One Sense." The Kansas City Star 19 January 1996: 9.
The review summarizes the movie, offering the reader some background on Sor Juana's life. "Eloquent in its sparseness and gripping despite its almost complete lack of melodramatic elements, I, the Worst of All is a remarkable 1990 Argentine release that pits reason vs. faith, intellectual integrity vs. the line of least resistance and male authority vs. female independence" (9). "The picture's look relies on austere but exquisitely lit settings in blue and gray hues that openly proclaim their artificiality; individual scenes seem to have been cribbed from Vermeer and La Tour" (10). "What's particularly gratifying is that [Assumpta Serna] avoids 'big moments' -- it's a situation where you feel you're actually watching a historic character rather than watching someone acting that character" (11).
Glaessner, Verina. Yo, la peor de toda (I, the Worst of All). Sight and Sound 1.7 (1991): 56.
The review has two parts: the first part summarizes the movie, with a few inaccuracies. The second part attempts to show how Bemberg "saves" the film from the difficulty of handling these particular topics: intellectual world, convent life, and artistic creativity. "Bemberg's antinaturalistic style usefully sets the film at a distance from the novelettish world of costume drama" (57). "I, the Worst of All is also unusual among stories of convent life in that it is not about the discovery or loss of vocation but about a woman joining the church for quite other reasons, to find, as Bemberg has put it, 'a room of her own,' a world of intellectual challenge from which which women are otherwise excluded, a world symbolized by the masculine garments she dons as a young girl" (57).
Guthmann, Edward. "Stilted Feminist Stirrings in a Mexican Convent." San Francisco Chronicle 12 January 1996.
This review mainly summarizes the movie, turning negative towards the end. "Juana comes across as a saintlike beacon of enlightenment -- a rare flower in the parched garden of colonial Mexico" (2). "A protofeminist in a nun's habit, Sister Juana is largely a mouthpiece for Bemberg's ruminations on the actual spiritual imprisonment of women" (2). "Still, Bemberg's effort is more thesis than film. Talky, stilted and claustrophobic, I, the Worst of All ends up sounding like a redundant dissertation on the long, shameful history of female disenfranchisement" (3).
Hartl, John. "Bemberg at Her Finest." IMDb-External Reviews. 21 February 2000.
This is a positive review that contains information about the director as well. It also summarizes the film and it concentrates on the relationship between Juana and the Vicereine. "Their friendship [Juana's and the Vicereine's] is based on a mutual sense of being unable to express themselves fully" (1). "Bemberg suggests an unrealized lesbian relationship between the two women, and it's underlined by the erotically charged performances of Assumpta Serna as the poet-nun and Dominique Sanda as the Vicereine."
Holden, Stephen. "A Free-Spirited Nun's Poetry Shows Seeds of Her Undoing." The New York Times 22 September 1995: 10.
A generally positive review that summarizes the film for the most part. "I, the Worst of All is an impassioned feminist cry drawn in a cinematic vocabulary that is both minimalist and Expressionist. As the characters move through semi-abstract settings, their haunted faces reveal their inner lives. With its many medium close-ups of clerics, nuns and aristocrats locked in debate, the film is a visually compelling portrait gallery of people caught in a war between rationalism and religious zealotry. The movie has deep erotic undercurrents. Sexuality and its suppression and distortion roil like personal earthquakes behind the characters' eyes" (2). "The exception is Juana. She attains a kind of holiness, the movie implies, not through an abject spiritual devotion but through the light of her own intellectual fulfillment" (2).
Shulgasser, Barbara. "From Peasant to Poet: I, the Worst of All." San Francisco Examiner 12 January 1996.
This is a mainly summarizing negative review, complaining about the "slow-witted" rhythm of the movie.
Thomas, Kevin. "Worst of All Bristles with Irony, Ambiguity." Los Angeles Times 24 November 1995: 6.
Thomas writes a positive review, generally concentrated on the plot of the movie. "Initially, the beautifully designed I, the Worst of All, adapted from a novel by Nobel Prize winning Octavio Paz, bristles with a spirit of feminism and has us pondering its inescapable implications for the Roman Catholic Church of today: What of the status of its women, of freedom of expression and intellectual pursuit or, for that matter, the plight of Mexico's poor?" (2) "What the Church does to Sister Juana is abominable in its closed-mindedness and virulent misogyny, but in doing so it provides her with the kind of testing that results in an astounding spiritual redemption. I, the Worst of All is charged with an ambiguity and an irony that is electrifying" (2).