Set in Brazil in the year 2027, Divine Love posits a world where Christianity is on the verge of forcefully bridging the gap between church and state. There are crazy drive-thru chapels, Christian love raves, and a strict social stigma towards the concept of divorce. Divine Love is a group of people who work together in weird ways to save failing relationships. Essentially, a couple will get counseling and then swap partners with another couple and then switch back in some strange ritual that promotes intimacy.
The story focuses on Joana (Dira Paes) Danilo and (Julio Machado), a married couple trying desperately to conceive a child. While Joana’s day job consists of aggressive marriage counseling, her marriage is feeling the strain and pressure that comes with trying for a child. Her faith is continuously tested, and then something happens that raises a myriad of questions and implies supernatural and possibly evil intervention.
The ending implies a lot of shocking things, but I think it ends way too abruptly. I don’t see it appealing to a broad audience. While I enjoyed Divine Love, although I do feel it dragged on a little too long. The music was a brilliant medley of synth that reminded me of composer Cliff Martinez. The bright neon colors complement that comparison, and the world the story takes place in is advanced but not unrealistically advanced, which I appreciated.
“…a group of people who work together in weird ways to save failing relationships.”
Paes and Machado have great chemistry. They balance the different aspects of the relationship really well. We see their struggle to make their marriage work, the awkward distance their relationship is heading towards, and everything in-between. They light up the screen when they share scenes together. However, the scenes that explore faith and Christianity come off as a little too on the nose. There are parts where other audience members audibly scoffed, and despite sitting in the dark, I could literally feel their eyes roll. The sequences with the drive-thru sermons were hilarious, and the hymns and faith-based music weren’t terribly horrendous.
Divine Love is beautifully shot and wonderfully acted. Still, it may be too blasphemous for those who are of the religious persuasion. For those who do not subscribe to a defined religion, it may be overly dogmatic and weird. Some very graphic sex scenes come out of nowhere, and the Divine Love marital counseling group’s method is not explained. It’s just there, and the audience is forced to accept it.
I feel like this movie had less of the stuff I wanted and was made up more of boring and redundant scenes. I don’t think I can recommend checking Divine Love out, especially if you’re on the far side of being religious or the polar opposite. I enjoyed it despite its flaws, but I feel like it’s going to either annoy or offend most who wind up seeing it.
Divine Love screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
"…may be too blasphemous for those who are of the religious persuasion. For those who do not subscribe to a defined religion, it may be overly dogmatic and weird."