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Sister Mary Explains It All (2001)

A bigoted, fanatical nun comes face to face with the lives she ruined through her teachings when a quartet of her traumatized former students return to perform at her Christmas Eve church lecture.


Marshall Brickman


Christopher Durang (play), Christopher Durang (screenplay)
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Diane Keaton ... Sister Mary Ignatius
Brian Benben ... Gary Sullivan
Wallace Langham ... Aloysius Benheim
Laura San Giacomo ... Angela DiMarco
Jennifer Tilly ... Philomena Rostovich
Max Morrow ... Thomas
Martin Mull ... Skeptical Husband
Victoria Tennant ... Bitter Divorcee
Joanne Boland ... Cynthia Johnson
Jon Davey Jon Davey ... Tony Cardonelli
Joan Gregson ... Deaf Woman
Linda Kash ... Skeptical Husband's Wife
B.J. Woodbury B.J. Woodbury ... Truck Driver
Jocelyne Zucco ... Mrs. Cardonelli
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mark Allan Mark Allan ... Attractive Man #2


A bigoted, fanatical nun comes face to face with the lives she ruined through her teachings when a quartet of her traumatized former students return to perform at her Christmas Eve church lecture.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


When it comes to sin... she's hell on heels See more »


Comedy | Drama







Release Date:

28 May 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Et dieu créa soeur Mary See more »

Filming Locations:

Brampton, Ontario, Canada See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film starts by showing the hands of a nun and they appear to belong to a woman older than Diane Keaton, implying that the character is intended to be older than the actress portraying her. See more »


Sister Mary Ignatius: Are you a prostitute?
Philomena Rostovich: No, I just get lonely.
[a Man in the congregation laughs]
See more »


Written by: Scott Nickoley and Jamie Dunlap
See more »

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User Reviews

Plan "Nun" from Outer Space
7 September 2001 | by ziffySee all my reviews

Some plays were never meant to be adapted for the big or small screen, and "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You" is one of them. Having seen Christopher Durang's wickedly funny play at least twice, I had high hopes for this video version, which were all but dashed within a few minutes of the opening credits. What worked on stage--virtually no set, few characters, broad satire, and symbolic violence--simply falls flat on video.

Of course, any play suffers in transition to another medium because plays are meant to be enjoyed by a live audience. In the theater, we were Sister's audience. Sister didn't need a context for her spiel on basic Catholic dogma; she just launched into it. In the video, Durang attempts to replicate the audience feel by recasting Sister's lecture as an annual holiday event and providing an on-screen audience consisting (mostly) of her devotees. This is totally incompatible, however, with the play's outrageous black humor.

New scenes are added, involving members of Sister's audience, but they do not enhance the story at all. Rather, their only purpose seems to be to lengthen it in order to fill a predetermined time slot. The subplot involving the teenage couple was especially pointless.

There were many slight but significant changes in the dialogue that, to me, dulled the play's original barbs. Even the character of Thomas, the little boy, was softened up. Without revealing the ending of either version, I can say that the video really wimps out, leaving Sister a tragic figure instead of the triumphant tyrant she was in the play.

Lastly, though this is a small nit to pick, the opening sequence shows Sister's hands lovingly turning the pages of a Bible. Anyone who was raised Catholic in the 50's and 60's knows that no religion or denomination is LESS devoted to the Bible than Catholics. A nun from that time would probably have a missal or some book of devotions on hand--but not a Bible!

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