Sunday, 20 February 2011

GFF 2011 - Of Love and Other Demons

Passion, desire, obsession, love, life, death, religion, faith and family...what more are you looking for in a film?

Based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez the basic story is of Sierva, daughter of Spanish nobility, living in a South American seaport and being raised by servants as her father attends to his affairs and her ailing mother lies physically and mentally exhausted in her chambers.  During a visit to the local market Sierva is bitten by a rabid dog and is sent to a local convent by the Bishop of the diocese as he fears that rabies is simply the devils means of entering a body.

The Bishop assigns a young priest, Father Delaura, to oversee the girls "treatment".  During the course of his visits with Sierva Delaura becomes obsessed by the beautiful young girl; haunted by visions of her he is unable to seperate his dreams from reality.  His devotion to God is replaced by his desire for the girl.

The clash of cultures between the locals, with whom Sierva relates, and the Catholic Church is played out against a backdrop of ritual, superstition, nature, science, repression and guilt.  All of this is encapsulated in the increasingly dangerous relationship between Delaura and Sierva.  The latter is played brilliantly by Eliza Triana in her film debut.  She beautifully captures the innocence and blossoming sexuality of the adolescent girl.  Her flowing red hair acting as a warning to those who fall under her spell and yet it also serves as a reminder of her innocence as she has vowed never to cut her hair until marriage.  Delaura is played by Pablo Derqui and like Father Karras in "The Exoricist" he is a bundle of conflicting desires; to serve God, to advance the Church from the dark ages and yet filled with a longing for Sierva that he is unable to control.

First time director Hilda Hidalgo also adopted the novel by Marquez and has created a beautiful film, rich in colour, filled with passion and containing many memorable scenes.  The success of the book should ensure an audience for this film and, with luck, that will happen before the inevitable Hollywood remake with Sierva now a 21 year old college girl who is pursued by a handsome young theology student...don't laugh, it could happen.

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