Review: Romance Del Robo Del Sacramento (2019)

Ca’Foscari Short Film Festival
International Competition 2020

Courtesy of Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival

A film whose title wasn’t necessary to translate, Antonio Llamas Romance Del Robo Del Sacramento serves the hot topic of church and plunder as a freshly spiced dish.

Two devoted Christians discuss their relationship to church while stripping it of its valuable assets, but before that – there’s a moment of prayer, to bid farewell. “Is this gold?”, the man wonders. “There is nothing false in the church”, replies the woman. While they are packing golden candelabrum and candlesticks, other villagers are just picking up what they find, passing by silently with paintings and crosses in their hands. Their appearance is discreet – it’s less the matter of sneaking, and more of familiarity with the space and those “in charge”.

There is an incredible calmness to this robbery. Plundering as an act of everything that church officially stands against, but that it had employed for centuries to accumulate its own wealth, turns into a metaphor of sorts. It’s not the villagers plundering the church, it’s the state plundering them off their homes. The village has to be abandoned, the houses left behind. The primary impulse is to save something that stands above their own material possessions, as the woman remarks somewhere in the first half of the film “What you give to God, can not be taken back”. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that this is a heart-breaking matter, and not the criminal act.

The eye of cinematographer Ignacio Pinela Almendro is almost completely documentary-like sober. All colours are washed out to a drab grayness, mourning over the destiny of of the church and its parish.

The closing credits are accompanied by a gripping song sung by a woman who “confesses” her crimes to a priest. Not only has she killed her parents ad siblings, she also admits to having stolen from the church: “I stabbed and stabbed that sovereign lord”.