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Holy Trinity

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Oct 24, 2019
'Holy Trinity'
'Holy Trinity'  

Molly Hewitt's eye-popping opus "Holy Trinity" falls somewhere near to David Lynch territory, possessing an offhand, calmly assumed strangeness and operating on a level, and from a place, that's more or less recognizable, but also not quite here. (The quotidian "real world," for what it's worth, is glimpsed only in nightmarish flashbacks.) Like an extended visual joke, the film is meticulous about following through on its own set of oddball, but rigorous, rules.

Trinity (Hewitt) makes her living as a dominatrix, and shares her living space with three housemates: Her life partner, Baby (Theo Germaine, also seen in Ryan Murphy's new Netflix series "The Politician"); Carol (Heather Lynn), whose style — and, to an extent, moods and outlook — are all about black and white; and Imp Queen (Imp Queen), a dragtastic presence so fantastical she almost doesn't seem to belong even to the rarefied and brightly-hued universe in which this movie takes place.

All's well in the world of Trinity and her pals until she starts "huffing" Carol's fragrance spray, a Brazilian product with unusual side effects — for Trinity, that is. While the room deodorizer might not do much for anyone else, it triggers a latent ability in Trinity that allows her to... wait for it... hear dead people.

This presents Trinity with something of a quandary. There's nothing like the droning of a dead parent to ruin a good night's sleep, but on the other hand the dear departed relatives of her clients prove invaluable insights as to the ways in which they like to be dominated and punished. As things begin to spiral out of control (and Trinity gets "Internet famous," with desperately bereaved people and curiosity seekers alike begging her to communicate with dead friends, relative, and pets) things between Trinity and Baby start going downhill.

The production design is by someone called Mood Killer, but it's anything but; homes, clothing, people, and environments are visually wild, and even everyday products come in candy-colored containers that are labeled (in what's either a recurrent Zeitgeist vibe or a nod to the 1984 Alex Cox film"Repo Man") in a hilariously mismatched generic style. (Seeing the same black font on white bottles spelling out "Cola," "Ketchup," and the like is one thing; seeing the same font, in a day-glo palette, appear across tins and jugs that are similarly painted is both wry and a riot... a wryot, perhaps).

The movie staggers in an almost drunken, and yet narratively decisive, manner from one tableaux to another, taking in convenience stores, strange bodegas, dance club church services, and a session of energy balancing that's nothing less than trippy. The human elements are just as outlandish; for every exotically-appointed bit player there's an anthropomorphic pet, such as the human housecat that comes ambling by, purring away, in the midst of a scene.

But underneath the candy shell there's a serious (if crunchy) center to chew on. "Holy Trinity" is a movie that reflects on religion on multiple levels: As a comfort to the faithful; as a torment to those who do not share the faith traditions of those in power; as a source of trauma; as a balm that answers that same trauma, with faith reinventing itself so as to subvert, absorb, and reinterpret the originally offending dogma. This is no "Church of the Poisoned Mind"; rather, Hewitt conceptualizes a pan-gender, pan-romantic, super-fluid spirituality that's joyously carnal and utterly mysterious.

Like any other religious mystery, this film will attract a cult following from those get it; those who don't will be baffled, appalled, shocked, or — most likely — some combination of all of the above.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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