Viridian's plot is unique and complicated in, and also considered very blasphemous by the Vatican and the country of Spain which banned the film from showing for 15 years in Spain.
In a nutshell...the movie tells the story of a nun who returns home for a short trip to visit her wealthy uncle, who has hopeful delusions his niece will live with him and marry him, but when she refuses he poisons her and pretends to take her virginity. As the plot progresses and the old uncle hangs himself, Viridina (the nun) suddenly has chosen not to continue her path as a nun, but in a refreshing 2nd act she is helping and aiding the homeless and indigent population around her wealthy uncle's mansion. Yet when Viridiana must leave for around 24 hours to finalize some paperwork with the lawyers, the homeless people disrespect all of Viridiana's protocols, and run a muck and recklessly, in a way drastically different from all Viridiana's ideals.
While there is a lot of other unique scenes, dialogue, and images in this film, the final feeling that you feel as a viewer is one of dis-hope. It's a feeling that says to throw away your ideals, don't try.
There are so many films that set there aims on being inspirational, or at least in the end show redemption, because messages of hope push us along, urging us to keep at it, and to strive after our ideals.
Obviously, many film makers and writers have instead tried to be more realistic rather than romantic. This drive to be realistic has created a countless number of films which end in death or other horrific moments.
Yet, never before I saw Viridiana did I see a film that did not set it's goals on being inspirational, or realistic. Instead it went at least one notch away from realistic into a category of uninspirational, or dishopeful. It's like a negative fairy tale, with a moral that says don't try, it's all a waste.
I certainly can appreciate this film, it's unique story telling, and many things about it. I think I can even appreciate it's balance to the spectrum of film messages. Yet at the same time, it can leave one with a sinking feeling scratching your head saying "What do I make of this? How would one live in a world with out hope?"