Review: Divine Love (2019 Sundance Film Festival)


Title: Divine Love
Rating: NR
Director: Gabriel Mascaro
Starring: Dira Paes, Julio Machado, Teca Pereira
Runtime: 1hr 41min

What It Is: In 2027, the devout Joana lives in a utopic state of Brazil, where technology assists and demands nearly all transactions and everything fits into place. She uses her job at a notory’s office as an undercover matchmaker, determined to prevent couples from divorcing by suggesting a strange church-like (or cult-like) program in order for them to reconnect. Meanwhile. Joana struggles with her own marriage and faith as she and her husband try all means for a child, ultimately made to endure Godly consequences for the better or worse.

What We Think: Certainly one of the more hidden visual staples of the festival, this foreign indie garnered so much potential in its storytelling, but, unlike its dreamy, electric and sensual cinematography and score, the story left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. Certainly a bit of a thinkpiece in its entirety, the slowing of the plot and dragging out of certain scenes left me sort of numb; disenchanted, almost, as I began to grow tired whatever absurdity I was watching. To its credit, it has strength in its themes and presentation of those themes, heavy with cinematic power and leaving one with the question: is faith worth the sacrifice? That I certainly commend and is something I haven’t felt I’ve really explored in this manner in film. The setting is especially unique, it being set in a near  (yet distant enough to where it feels sort of alien) future where religion is not only prevalent, but is an explosive and lively part of these characters’ everyday; it’s welcome food-for-thought.

Our Grade: B-, Originally, I considered a C+, but looking back at the film and what it means, I realized there was more I could sort of reflect back on. Leaves one with some titillating (or, more likely, sour) ambiguity that gives one the opportunity to do some higher-level thinking, this visual standout offers philosophies that, while interesting, may not be enough to maintain your serious attention. Watch for the big moments, but don’t expect much of the smaller ones to hold on their own without them.

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