Compassionate Sex

Director: Laura Maña
Screenwriters: Laura Maña

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


"Father, teach me to sin." These are the desperate words of Dolores whose husband, the handsome Manolo, exasperated by his wife's oppressive generosity and goodness, has just called quits on their marriage. Thus begins director Laura Maña's comic, magic-realist fable of love's travails and a town's redemption. The film's offbeat but perfectly executed plot is set in a nameless Mexican village—desolate, dusty, and dying—where love between man and wife is but a memory; where for years no child has been born. Dolores realizes that if her goodness is what drove Manolo away, badness will bring him back, so she sets out on an energetic quest for sin. In what becomes her greatest work of charity ever, Dolores, who now calls herself Lolita, brings sexual satisfaction to most of the male population of the town. As if by a miracle, romance blossoms once again, and the streets are filled with movement and laughter. But charity is not sin, and Dolores's quest is not yet over.

Compassionate Sex opens with a hard-edged, black-and-white neorealism that morphs into luxuriant color and Felliniesque fantasy as Lolita works her magic. Sly soap opera references and deftly treated spoofs of film stereotypes glide into gags and burlesque, then into surreal religious tableaux as the large cast of well-drawn characters pursue their fantastic exploration of love and passion, right and wrong, in this outlandish Mexican "Macondo."

— Nicole Guillemet

Screening Details

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