The film we are currently watching is called ‘Acts of Worship’. It’s a film I’ve never heard of, and from what I’ve gathered in the first half it hasn’t appealed to me as much as the other two. It seems like a movie that will have a profound message, but I haven’t gathered much from it. As for a religious message, it’s been hard to find one besides the obvious iconography.
The movie surrounds this girl named Alex. Alex is a druggy. She’s rather young, and she was born and raised in a happy-go-lucky religious family. For some reason or another she left to New York, got on drugs, and made a mess of her once perfect little life. From the beginning you can see the conflict of the girls past and her present. The innocence of her youth is rivaled by the current mess she’s made of herself. She steals, does drugs, deals with drug dealers, shoots up, and steals some more.
Later on down the line she runs into an ex-user and photographer, who takes her under her wing in an effort to help cleanse her from her problems. The lady who helps Alex is a photographer who photographs druggies, so it’s Alex’s usage that leads them to each other. That’s a quickly thought up summary of the story.
So what role does religion play in the film? As I first said, there is a bunch of iconography. These religious icons are all of the Catholic faith. I’ll provide a short list of their cameo’s, because I think it’s of importance: The first one is one that expresses to us her families religious nature. When she gets a postcard from her parents, they include St. Jude; the saint of desperate and lost causes. It’s obvious at this point that the parents, along with the tone of their postcard, consider their child lost and in need of being found. I believe this is the first sign of the religious theme in the film; redemption. This is not St. Judas’s last cameo either. Our next image, which isn’t as much religious as transcendental, is that of two women dancing free in the pages of a book she steals. I think this refers to her friend and her, and their quest for freedom and redemption. The next theme we have is a song that plays which includes such verses as “I could use a prayer.”, “I don’t know much about power.”, and “The world and it’s people are dying.”. The song is themed on Jesus, and it appears that the song, as well as the area she lives in, hints at the falling state of the world as defined by Catholicism.
So far we have images that have pointed to the theme of redemption, the theme of being lost, and to the fallen state of the world. Yet other images help up build a vision of the films religious method. Alex’s friend takes pictures of a black lady and druggie, while this photographed woman carried a cross. Another image I noticed that isn’t Catholic was the Ying Yang Alex’s abusive boyfriend wore. Maybe this is a reference to karma and that he’ll get his in the end?
Other Catholic images: She goes on a picnic and mentions her love of water. The film itself starts with her floating. Could this be a clue towards baptism and her wanting to be cleansed of her sins? Either way, she returns from some venture with some crackheads, and finds Alex in the room. They talk about prayer, if they work, and she later goes on to pray with an 8 ball. This shows that some sliver of faith may remain in the girl. Our next image is that of a statue of St. Jude. He appears in the transition of the scene, maybe once against referring to her state. These are all the images I could remember for the film, and it would be interesting to see how it results.
So far we remain with these religious themes: redemption, being lost, the fallen state of the world, and the opportunity of being saved through some acts (maybe a hint at the prayer or baptism). It’s not clear, so I look forwards to seeing how the film uses this so far Catholic ideology to give meaning to the film; maybe through salvation of Alex in good works or deed, or in her continued state of being lost.
-Leonard O Goenaga