Quick Thoughts: Of Love And Other Demons (Del Amor Y Otros Demonios, 2009)
Made by Hilda Hidalgo, this is the Costa Rican film of the series.
Of Love And Other Demons is a slow and contemplative film that explores and questions the concept of forbidden love through a 13-year-old Sierva (handmaid), María, that is bitten by a rabid dog. Assuming that she is infected by evil, priests have her sent to a commune to be cured. Here her upbringing – she was raised by black maids and so elements of their culture and language have been embedded into her – and her looks – her long red hair – become the catalyst for conflict. This conflict is predicated on an emotion that is hard to describe; it is a blend of disgust and jealousy, but neither term is accurate enough to define the phenomena put to screen. The jealousy is encapsulated by the nuns seemingly fearing and being wary of her striking looks and in turn persecuting her for this. And the disgust comes from their aversion to the “negro” influence that is about her – also the rabies which she is soon cured of. Again, these terms aren’t an accurate means of describing exactly what occurs in this narrative. The best way to surmise the events in this story is to reiterate the title, Of Love And Other Demons. To equate love and compassion – that which María represents through her upbringing and eventually attracts through her looks – to a demon is to use superstition as a facade through which other unspoken inner complexes can be projected. In such, whilst it is implied, it is never said that the characters persecuting María merely do not like other cultures, are afraid of a disease that they do not fully understand, and nor do they like the sexuality that she inadvertently represents. There is then a clear dissonance and sense of confusion, or disharmony, that the characters in this narrative symbolically absolve by confronting and destroying, not their own prejudices and complexes, but the stimuli – the person – that triggers them through an exorcism.
Of Love And Other Demons is then a narrative not just about the persecution of an innocent girl because of religious dogma being bent around prejudice, but is an allegory about this archetypal “dissonance persecution” in society. For this, Of Love And Other Demons is an intricately woven film that, though it drags its feet just a little, is worth seeing.
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