This week gives us a much-needed break from full-frontal scenes depicting the male (and female) anatomy, which is a feat unto itself. Add Whitney Houston musical numbers, strong female friendships, and lesbian themes, and we’ve got…well, a film premise constructed from our dreams, essentially.
Holy Camp! (La llamada)
Teen bffs at a religious summer camp must contend with secret parties, the crushing of their dreams, visits from an unexpectedly glittery God, and attractive nuns.
Maria and Susana are besties for life reluctantly spending the summer at a religious camp for teens. While initially planning to sneak out and party every night, Maria has lost interest in their schemes. As it turns out, she has been meeting someone else at night–God. And he seems to be a huge fan of Whitney Houston.
After refusing to participate in a weekend canoe trip, Maria and Susana are effectively under house arrest with novice nun Milagros. Though she tries to be stern, Milagros is too kind to be angry and bonds with Susana over their love of music. Hmmmmmm…I wonder if perhaps Milagros has a secret past as the lead singer of a band…
Milagros isn’t the only one keeping a secret. Susana, upset about the newfound distance between the two friends, accuses Maria of leaving her hanging. Maria, on the other hand, thinks it’s time to grow up and forget about their dream to become a world-famous girl band.
Meanwhile, Sister Bernarda is convinced she has the perfect solution for reining the girls in: music. Though Milagros appreciates the thought, she finds Sr. Bernarda’s taste in music…a bit dated. This leads to perhaps the finest nun-centric musical number since The Sound of Music.
Still on the outs with her bff, Maria, confides in Sr. Bernarda that God speaks to her through the songs of Whitney Houston. Sr. Bernarda is less than understanding initially, but does eventually believe and support Maria. With the help of the Sister, Maria learns to pray so she can understand God’s message but keeps her newfound faith a secret.
Susana is also keeping her feelings a secret. When she sees Milagros dress up and sing into a hairbrush, reminiscing about her days as a singer, Susana develops a bit of a crush. But does Milagros have a clue?
Though now armed with the power of prayer, Maria feels farther than ever from God when he laughs at her efforts and walks away. She becomes despondent after this until Susana finally visits her and the two make up. Susana confesses to Milagros that she’s in love with her, leaving the novice stunned.
How will the two best friends heal their relationship with the ones they love? And might it perhaps involve a choreographed glitter-suffused dance number?
5/5 Pink Panther Heads
I feel bad now about some of the other films I haven’t given a full 5 stars that probably deserved it. This one definitely deserves it as it’s so fucking joyous and refreshing in so many ways. All 4 of our leading characters are women, one of whom is rather aged. Though she’s a bit out of touch, she is a respected and compassionate while remaining remarkably free of judgment. The ladies of this film support each other so much, and I support that support.
The way love is explored is powerful: spiritual love, the love between friends, and romantic love. Both Maria and Susana express their love for each other by being true to themselves and honest with each other. I also like the message about religion even as a completely non-religious person. The way the faithful choose to worship is their decision–music is just as valid as prayer.
If this is what church had been like when I was growing up, you can be pretty damn sure my ass would’ve been in the pews about 3,000x more.