Directed by: Mariana Bastos
Distributed by: TBA
Written by Taylor Baker
Mariana Bastos’s first solo feature film catalogs a young woman losing touch with her hold on reality following the tragic death of her mother. Valentina Herszage plays the titular role of Raquel, at the outset of the film she’s moved to her father Hermes’ (Emilio de Mello) childhood village where they’ve opened up a grocery store and are trying eke out a comfortable if simple existence selling food and goods to the small town’s residents. Raquel is quickly swept up in a local teen female church group led by Ana Helena (Priscila Bittencourt). After sunbathing with her new acquaintances Raquel in a pseudo-”Picnic at Hanging Rock” sequence is drawn to a cave.
The film unfolds conventionally from here on out with Raquel day by day believing she is seeing signs from god. This leads to a disagreement between her and Ana Helena over whether the Bible’s contents should be reinterpreted in a way that doesn’t subjugate women so severely. After their disagreement, Raquel starts her own teenage church group with many of the girls humiliating Ana Helena and consequently leading to a derivative dual representation of both the experience of ostracism in a small town and abuse of power.
Bastos as writer-director manages to continuously keep what is tantalizing about both Raquel as a character and “Raquel 1:1’s” plot just out of reach which makes for a very easy viewing experience. Its primary weaknesses lie on the technical side with Fernanda Tanaka’s cinematography looking flat, and the lighting both natural and superficial range from unflattering to flat-out ugly. The handheld cinematography is notably quivering in multiple scenes, and a particular choice to fast forward a bathtub sequence removes the severity of an otherwise intriguing scene. Likewise, the sound design choices are too forced, shoving emotionality at the viewer instead of slowly bubbling to the surface as Raquel’s character does over its runtime. Though technical issues do permeate the film, it’s clear that Bastos is a proficient visual storyteller. One who’ll hopefully move away from primarily relying on character ambiguity and continue to hone her voice.
“Raquel 1:1” Clip