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Ritual: A Psychomagic Story

North American Premiere
  • Italy
  • 2012
  • 100 mins
  • HD
  • Spanish / Italian
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection, CPH PIX, Copenhagen, 2013

Everything is going wrong for Lia. The young woman is entirely at the mercy of Viktor, a spouse with a possessive and sadistic temperament. Every day, she bends unflinchingly to his will, his strict rules and insatiable, fetishistic desires. Slave to a destructive relationship, Lia seems condemned to a miserable existence. This fear is confirmed when she announces Viktor she is pregnant with his child. Furious, he forces her to have an abortion immediately. Lia cracks. She falls into a dark, heavy depression which leads her to attempt suicide. Saved at the last minute, she finally abandons Viktor and joins her aunt in Mason, a village where as a child she spent many summers. Arriving at her destination, Lia enters another world. Mason is no ordinary small town, but a magical place populated by witches and mythical creatures. There, Lia will try to overcome Viktor’s influence with the help of mysterious, esoteric rituals. Meanwhile, her dangerous lover hasn’t had his final word, and is determined to do anything to have his prey back.

Cinephiles will remember 2013 as the great return of Alejandro Jodorowsky, master of the strange. While everyone is impatiently waiting to discover his new autobiographical feature film LA DANZA DE LA REALIDAD, a film made almost simultaneously takes on the worthy challenge adapting not a book by but the very philosophy of the auteur of EL TOPO. As its title indicates, RITUAL - A PSYCHOMAGIC STORY is directly inspired by psychomagic, a form of therapy practiced by Jodo, mixing shamanism, symbolism and spirituality. However, this first film from Guilia Brazzale and Luca Immesi is certainly not a new-age propaganda piece, far from it. It is instead a dive into a wild universe where the energy of sadomasochism crosses path with hallucinated beliefs from an exotic folklore. The tension between the real and supernatural is definitely blurred in this electrifying work, recalling the dreamlike JULIET OF THE SPIRITS by Fellini. Désirée Giorgetti is a true revelation in the role of Lia, a true revelation in her remarkably accurate performance, which oscillates between almost infantile fragility and intoxicating erotic power. With its dark humour and violence, RITUAL also situates itself in the vein of Almodovar’s delightful early films, while prefiguring this year’s ACROSS THE RIVER by Lorenzo Bianchini, an important, triumphant return of Italian genre cinema. We wouldn’t dare ask for more!

— Simon Laperrière