Review: Raquel 1:1 | SXSW 2022

Score: B-

Director: Mariana Bastos

Cast: Valentina Hersage, Emilio de Mello, Priscila Bittencourt, Eduarda Samara

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Rated: NR

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.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.