On paper, Raquel 1:1 should have been one of my favorite films of the festival. But a commitment to vagueness and a refusal to find a tone make this a mixed bag.
Valentina Herszage stars as Raquel. After a traumatic event, she and her father Hermes (Emilio de Mello) move to a small town in Brazil. They hope for a fresh start, and Hermes throws himself into his work at a convenience store. Raquel makes friends easily, growing close with Ana Helena (Priscila Bittencourt) and Laura (Eduarda Samara) and the church group they lead. But Raquel's ideas about faith, scripture and gender roles causes division.
After a surreal experience in a cave, Raquel believes her unorthodox ideas should be treated as prophecy. Soon, she's recruiting other young women from the church to meet in secret and revise the Bible with a more feminist bent. While this could lead to some fascinating and provocative discussion, the church elders accuse Raquel of witchcraft. There's no hope for nuance. It's either divine or demonic. When she remains committed to her mission, the church members grow increasingly violent.
There's DNA of some of my favorite films here, including Saved!, and recent religious satires/horror movies like Saint Maud and Benedetta. But the film doesn't choose a lane. It's consistently bleak, but often switches between supernatural terror and more everyday violence and oppression. This may be a budgetary constraint - the film reportedly cost just $500,000 - but it does have a style that works and some solid performances.
Raquel 1:1 certainly stirs things up, but it could have been revolutionary.