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 sort of strange ritual that promotes intimacy.
The story focuses on Joana and Danilo (played by Dira Paes and Julio Machado respectively), a married couple trying desperately to conceive a child. While Joana’s day job consists of aggressive marriage counseling, her own 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 divine intervention.
“…a group of people who work together in weird ways to save failing relationships.”
The ending implies a lot of shocking things, but I think the film ends way too abruptly. I don’t see it appealing to a broad audience. I enjoyed the movie, 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 compliment that comparison, and the world the story takes place in is advanced but not unrealistically advanced, which I appreciated.
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; we see the awkward distance their relationship is heading towards, and everything in-between. They light up the screen when they share scenes together. The scenes that explore faith and Christianity come off as a little too on the nose. There are parts where audience members literally 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 wasn’t terribly horrendous.
“…those who are on the religious persuasion it may be too blasphemous…”
Divine Love is beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, but for those who are on the religious persuasion it may be too blasphemous, and for those who do not subscribe to a defined religion, it may be too dogmatic and weird. There are some very graphic sex scenes that 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 more of the stuff that was boring and redundant. I don’t think I can recommend checking this one out, especially if you’re on the far side of being religious or far on the opposite side. 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 (2019) Directed by Gabriel Mascaro. Written by Gabriel Mascaro, Rachel Daisy Ellis, Esdras Bezerra, and Lucas Paraizo. Starring Dira Paes, Julio Machado, Teca Pereira, Emílio de Mello, Thalita Carauta, Mariana Nunes. Divine Love screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
6.5 out of 10