Review of Faith (2019)
Seen in 2020.
Daily routine with the “Warriors of Light”, an Italian commune that identifies as a Catholic monastery and a kung fu cadre for the End Times. They’ve got men, women, children, crossbows, a gym with OSB floors, and disco night.
There’s an opening crawl for context and a closing note that one member accused of sexual misconduct left before completing his confession, but no other editorial commentary. The editing itself, while it must come from a large amount of footage, seems intended to provide a fly-on-the-wall impression rather than introducing characters, telling a story or even providing an overview of the organization, despite director Valentina Pedicini having worked with member Laura in a previous project. There are no interviews, no bible study, no economics and no agenda. In Buddha in Africa (2019), the martial artists at least get to watch kung fu.
Creepy behaviour is to be expected in the intersection of a cult with a gym. The abusive “Master” and his suffering lieutenants are as unpleasant as I expected. Pedicini’s authorial voice could have helped make larger points. Her silence does highlight two uses of Disney’s Mulan (1998), in a song and a children’s book, as comically incongruous intrusions of the outside world from which the viewer gets cut off, but the style is too murky.
I saw this at GIFF 2020, about six weeks before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the WHO while hundreds of billions of locusts swarmed in East Africa. I cannot help but think the movie would have been better if it had been shot at that time.