A Commentary on Monxa Mala: Various Sides of a Woman
by Rich Moreland, July 2019
Various Sides of a Woman
Writer/director Jac Avila leaves the viewer to decide what the Father means when he references the “big lie” that is making its way around the monastery.
No matter how such a lie is interpreted, remember that each novice/nun in Monxa Mala represents a side of the human condition that is tested by it. Leticia is the rebel who is unrepentant while Julia is the cultist who refuses to question. Barbara is sexual lust and power personified, the opposite of Lucrecia whose pragmatism guides her actions.
Martina and Justa represent the old adage, “the less said, the better.” In Martina’s case, she solves problems. We see that when talk with the Father turns to performing abortions to rid the monastery of its recurring unspoken “problem.” Lucrecia volunteered for one, Martina informs us.
It’s the big coverup that gets out of control. Except for Leticia who remains defiant and pays with a crown of thorns, the women have sold their souls to the Devil in a bargain driven by necessity. They have forfeited their choices.
Throughout the film, the tension between the Father and Leticia becomes a psychological tug-of-war. He threatens, she resists. As the story moves into its later stages, Leticia becomes the omnipotent power of freedom that sees everything for what it is.
In the final scenes, only the Enforcers, Lucrecia and Barbara, remain on-screen. They are crucified and the Father penetrates them once again, this time symbolically with the needle probe.
Finally the stage is empty of its victims. The Father sits calmly, pleased with his cleansing of the holy order. The Church is left naked and alone to wallow in its self-righteousness, or so it seems because there is more to this ending.
Read More of A Commentary on Monxa Mala: Part Two