Despite having elements of a typical exorcism movie, this isn't a horror tale as much as it is a comedy with jokes in the most unusual spots and a meditation on faith and what forms it takes. Director/co-writer Mickey Reece takes deliberate, sharp left turns with Agnes, starting with its opening sequence. The credits roll over a delightful-looking birthday cake. The stern, bespectacled Mother Superior gives a cautious but heartfelt birthday speech before being pelted in the face with a hunk of cake, thrown by the possessed Agnes just before she unleashes a torrent of foul words. In other scenes, priests and nuns walk down a hall in slow motion, accompanied by a bad-ass beat, to the exorcism. And the supposedly pious nuns comment on how handsome the males are, giggling and blushing at compliments.
The meat of the film -- and this isn't an empty metaphor, as Benjamin describes life as a sandwich, with God as the meat -- are Mary's attempts to build a life outside the convent walls. Her unhurried, meticulous scenes give her an array of inputs, various ways in which she might find meaning in her life. But everything falls short. In the role, Quinn gives a quiet, hurting performance that's effortlessly touching. It may not be apparent how, or whether, everything in Agnes comes together, exactly, but it's still a thoughtful movie that manages to get into spiritual themes without either preaching or mocking.