Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Religious Hypocrisy

Divino Amor (2019) - Mascaro
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It's 2027 Brazil. The country has gone full Christian fundamentalist. Gabriel Mascaro's version of it is all neon and electronic music. Joana (Dira Paes) and Danilo (Julio Machado) are a middle class couple. She is a notary public, working in a gigantic concrete government building and he is a florist, working in their ground floor apartment complex. They haven't been able to conceive a child even though they try every possible way and method and with gizmos. Something is wrong with Danilo's sperm. They belong to Divine Love, a Christian religious group exclusively for couples. It's a cult like therapy/support group for couples who's had marriage troubles before. They do trust exercises and share partners in bed. Joana, using her position of power as a bureaucrat, has been discouraging couples who seek a divorce at her job. Her sometimes aggressive tactics don't sit well with her clients as well as her superiors. She constantly visits a drive-thru church to seek advice from a pastor. The god is silent on her and her husband's infertility and her faith is waining. Then a miracle happens. She is pregnant. But who is the father?

Mascaro, along with a fellow filmmaker from the region of Pernambuco, Kleber Mondonça Filho, somberly reflects on the life under the extreme right-wing, religious zealotry of Bolsonaro regime here with Divino Amor. Photographed by Diego García (Cemetery of Splendor, Our Time, Neon Bull), the film is perfectly framed and neon colors beautifully rendered. The film inserts in just enough details for us to see that the country has changed: women on the beach are wearing head to toe black garb - very much like burkini, every building, businesses and shops have customer identifying prompter at the door by their name, marital status and whether they are pregnant or not and there is no mention or show of homosexuality whatsoever anywhere. In true Mascaro fashion, sex scenes are very graphic and honest, but only limited to married couple or consenting adults, all heterosexual. The film is narrated by Joana's child who might be born out of immaculate conception and just might be the savior people have been waiting for, but left nameless and unregistered, because of he is born into religious fundamentalist country once was known as most culturally, sexually, racially diverse country in the world, Brazil, less than a decade ago.

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