Divine Love (Divino Amor)
2027 is an odd date to set a film: it’s oddly close and only leaves a small space for the futuristic imagination. That’s why it is such a unique positioning for Gabriel Mascaro’s Divine Love, a quasi-sci-fi tale about religion and the state. In order to tackle such sprawling questions, Divine Love illuminates the struggles of Joana, a woman who is faithful in her relationship to God, which is put to the test as she struggles to conceive a child.
There is a clear sense of the state’s intrusions on the individuals’ freedoms. In the entrance to every public building, a futuristic metal detector identifies the person walking through by name, as well as their relationship status and whether they are pregnant. The Brutalist architecture that frames the world heightens the sense of man versus the bureaucratic machine. However, Joana takes comfort in the bureaucratic system and actively participates in its intrusions. As a notary, she systematically tries to prevent couples from divorcing. She attempts to lure them back onto the righteous path with invitations to her marriage and sex therapy group, Divine Love.
The production design adds a beguiling dimension to the film. There is no clutter of religious iconography. Instead, the frames are filled with fluorescent lights that emanate an aura of divinity mingled with a feeling of electronica. In the Brazil of 2027 the country’s most popular festival is no longer Carnaval but the festival of Supreme Love. We recognise its imagery from the EDM raves but the pyrotechnics are celebrating the glory of God.
Mascaro’s world is inventive and fun. There are moments of genuine and pleasant surprise, such as the drive-through churches that mimic a McDonald’s or even the practices within the Divine Love group. They bring levity to the content, which is, if scrutinised, a little more troubling.
The skill of Mascaro’s project is that he creates something at once familiar and strange. Allowing us to see the simple steps that can lead the course of history from one place to another. Unfortunately, the slick establishment of the world becomes loose and doesn’t close in as slick a manner as it was made. Nonetheless, in the final act, we learn the narration is coming from an even further future suggesting an even more perplexing decade to come.
Divine Love (Divino Amor) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Divine Love (Divino Amor) here: