The Movie Waffler SXSW 2022 Review - RAQUEL 1:1 | The Movie Waffler

SXSW 2022 Review - RAQUEL 1:1

raquel 1:1 review
A young woman becomes a pariah when she attempts to rewrite the Bible.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Mariana Bastos

Starring: Valentina Herszage, Emilio de Mello, Priscila Bittencourt, Eduarda Samara, Ravel Andrade

raquel 1:1 poster

If David Cronenberg had adapted Stephen King's Carrie rather than Brian de Palma, it might have resembled something like director Mariana Bastos's Raquel 1:1. Body horror mixes with dark coming-of-age metaphors while critiquing religion, in particular its misogynistic attitudes to women.

raquel 1:1 review

Following the initially ambiguous death of her mother, teenager Raquel (Valentina Herszage) and her father (Emilio de Mello) move back to the latter's hometown in rural Brazil, reopening the family's small convenience store. Raquel falls in with a group of teenage girls, who initially seem like any girls of that age, enjoying sleepovers, eyeballing cute boys and dancing in clubs, but they belong to a local evangelical church. Raquel joins the church, much to her agnostic father's displeasure, and finds kinship among its members.

But Raquel is troubled by how many of the Bible's words denigrate women. In crude but effective fashion, Bastos fills the sound mix with spoken passages of shocking misogynist sentiments lifted directly from "the Good Book," among them the instruction that a woman should be stoned to death if she dares to commit adultery.

raquel 1:1 review

When Raquel brings this up with her friends, the group's ringleader, Ana Helena (Priscilla Bittencourt), shuts down such awkward talk immediately. Later that night however, Raquel receives a text from another girl, Laura (Eduarda Samara), who tells her that she and some of the other girls have had the same thoughts but haven't dared speak them. With Raquel as their new messiah, the girls set about rewriting the Bible, making enemies of the town's traditionalists.

That setup in itself would make for a compelling drama, but Bastos confuses things by adding supernatural and body horror elements to the mix. Such additions are never really delved into and come off as unnecessary genre dressing on what is otherwise a relatively straight drama. There's an abandoned building in the woods that seems to exert a sort of Hanging Rock influence on the girls, but Bastos never fully explores this idea. The same goes for the stigmata like wounds that begin to appear on Raquel's torso.

raquel 1:1 review

Perhaps it's a symptom of religion's misogynistic hold in Brazil that Bastos felt the need to wrap her story of defiance in such thin horror dressings. But rather than a horror movie that serves as an allegory, Raquel 1:1 plays like an allegory desperate to convince us it’s a horror movie.

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