103 minutes – Drama
Release date: September 24, 1970
US release date: November 25, 1970
Distributor: Universal Pictures
The second of three films by Paul Almond to feature his then wife, Geneviève Bujold, Act of the Heart is the story of Martha Hayes, a deeply religious 18-year-old girl from Quebec’s North Shore who arrives in Montréal and becomes a governess for widowed businesswoman (Monique Leyrac) and her sickly son Russell (Bill Mitchell). Martha joins the church and sings in the choir (pictured). Infatuated with Father Michael Ferrier (Donald Sutherland), Martha suffers a deep and abiding sense of loss and pain when Russell dies in an accident. Questioning her faith, Martha declares her love for Father Ferrier who renounces his orders so that they can live together. To support their life together, Martha takes a job singing at a roadhouse. Consumed by guilt she commits suicide under the cross that stands on the mountain overlooking Montréal.
Act of the Heart won six Canadian Film Awards — director, actress for Bujold, art direction, overall sound, sound editing, and musical score.