Sister Mary Explains It All

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Sister Mary Explains It All
Sister Mary Explains It All.jpg
Film poster
Directed byMarshall Brickman
Produced byRonald M. Bozman
Written byChristopher Durang
StarringDiane Keaton
Brian Benben
Wallace Langham
Laura San Giacomo
Jennifer Tilly
Music byPhilippe Sarde
CinematographyAnthony B. Richmond
Edited byKristina Boden
Tennant/Stambler Productions
Distributed byShowtime
Release date
May 27, 2001 (2001-05-27)
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States

Sister Mary Explains It All is a 2001 satirical dark comedy film written by Christopher Durang and directed by Marshall Brickman. The film, based upon Durang's 1979 play Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, and starring Diane Keaton in the title role, premiered on the Showtime network.


The project was filmed in Toronto in association with Columbia TriStar Television.[1] The theme was originally covered in Christopher Durang's controversial 1979 stage play. In updating the character of Sister Mary, Durang read through 15 earlier drafts of the screenplay and discussed changes with Brickman and the producers.[2] The original film title was Sister Mary, but Durang felt the proffered title was too generic, preferring the original theatrical title.[3] For the film, Keaton was Brickman's choice for the role, which was cast against type, and she accepted the part because she thought she couldn't do it.[4]

The Catholic League objected to the depiction of Catholicism in the film and took out a full-page advertisement in Variety to protest its broadcast.[5][6] William A. Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, called for a boycott of Viacom, Showtime's parent company.[7]


Sister Mary (Diane Keaton) is an authoritarian Catholic nun who teaches children. Her teaching is heavily influenced by her fanatical beliefs. Four of her former pupils, Gary (Brian Benben), Aloysius (Wallace Langham), Angela (Laura San Giacomo) and Philomena (Jennifer Tilly), return to the school to show her how deeply her strict views on faith and sin have affected their lives.[8]

Partial cast[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Steven Oxman of Variety wrote "Satire tends to date quickly, but Christopher Durang's 1980 black comedy criticizing Catholic rigidity, "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You," still has some bite to it, which says a lot about the writer's incisive wit". He noted that the film did not have the same theatricality of Durang's initial work, and that with the original stageplay constructed for the audience's participation, the film included actors as representing broad characterizations of the play's audiences. Oxman concluded that the film might have perhaps remained truer to the original play had Sister Mary delivered her lecture directly to her unseen television audience.[1]


Max Morrow received a 2002 Young Artist Award nomination for 'Best Performance in a TV Movie or Special — Supporting Young Actor' for his role of Thomas.


  1. ^ a b Oxman, Steven (24 May 2001). "Sister Mary Explains It All". Variety. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  2. ^ King, Susan (27 May 2001). "Cover Story; Taught by 'Sister Mary'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  3. ^ Baron, James; Susan Saulny; Linda Lee (16 May 2001). "Boldface Names". New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  4. ^ Lee, Luaine (22 May 2001). "Keaton's Leap: Actress agreed to start in controversial 'Sister Mary' because she felt she couldn't do it". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 16 January 2010. ... I knew that that was a part I could never do ... it's really a tour-de-force thing that you would imagine you'd see on stage. And it's really not what I'm good at.
  5. ^ Henerson, Evan (27 May 2001). "OH, 'SISTER' SHOWTIME FILM VERSION OF CONTROVERSIAL COMEDY EXPLAINS IT AGAIN, ONCE AND FOR ALL". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ "Viacom: First in Catholic-bashing broadcasting". Press release. Catholic League. August 20, 2002. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  7. ^ "Boycott of Showtime launched". Press release. Catholic League. May 23, 2001. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  8. ^ James, Caryn. "Sister Mary Explains It All (2001)". Movies. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 January 2010.

External links[edit]