For those who wished for a movie in Chicago about queer sex workers, kink, religion, and talking to the dead – haven’t we all? – your prayers were finally answered with Holy Trinity. The debut feature by performance artist Molly Hewitt (who also goes by the nickname Glamhag) is brimming with style and poignant commentary on the intersection of power and pleasure.
Trinity (Hewitt) is a queer domineering woman with a penchant for blowing her neurotic roommate’s spray cans (they’re just like poppers, she says defensively throughout the film). But things take a turn for the worse when the replacement cans have an unexpected side effect and Trinity begins to hear the voices of the deceased.
At first, it’s sort of a superpower that Trinity uses to her advantage as a dominatrix by channeling the condescending tone of one of her client’s mothers. But it quickly becomes unbearable when it complicates her relationship with her partner Baby (a dazzling Théo Germaine never without a dog collar or heavy chains) when she cannot silence their recalcitrant father’s voice.
It is clear that Hewitt is fascinated by the dynamics of power and the way it manifests itself in all avenues. Whether it’s a dominatrix’s relationship with her client, the relationship between homosexual puppies and their owners, or her own complicated relationships with oppressive structures like capitalism and religion—Holy Trinity is a broad exploration of subordination.
Holy Trinity points out that while they may appear similar on paper, not all forms of subordination are created equal. Consensual BDSM play, whether through Trinity’s personal relationship with Baby or her working relationships with her clients, is a different animal from the inevitable daily subordination of people through often oppressive institutions. And there is power in choosing to be subordinate, rather than having it imposed on you.
Hewitt plays with power in a refreshing way, questioning the imbalanced dynamics within the Catholic Church and capitalism and how these can unwittingly find their way into our conception of romantic and sexual relationships.
Hewitt also thoughtfully examines and remixes religion throughout the film. Trinity’s divine power becomes a way for her to accommodate her tumultuous relationship with God as a punk homosexual young person who smoked cigarettes outside of her church, had bright orange hair, and rejected most institutions. But once Trinity gains notoriety for her supernatural abilities, it gives her something of a divine complex. While he doesn’t have as much time as it might warrant, there are seeds of what could be a timely look at the culture of influence regarding tragedy and how idolatry from day to day. tomorrow can affect the sense of self and relationships with others.
Religion is also queer in Holy Trinity, taking the form of a weekly party called Church, which is packed with drugs, music, and nun costumes galore. The scene is quite edited and deviates a bit from the larger narrative of the film, but it serves as an interesting rumination on the iconography and religious practices claimed by queer people, which have so often been vilified in these spaces.
In addition to being filmed in and around Chicago neighborhoods – and being directed by Chicago-based production company Full Spectrum Features –Holy Trinity full of familiar faces. Actress Sarah Sherman (better known as Sarah Squirm) is lovely as Miffy, a spirit that wants to tell her living friends – one of whom is the creator of Rebirth Garments Sky Cubacub – that she’s going well after passed away in a nacho incident. Drag queen Imp Kid (playing a fictional version of herself) is one of Trinity’s colorful roommates, wearing Eda Birthing concept fashion pieces. And jack-of-all-trades artist Alex Grelle steals the show as the Madonna-obsessed priest to whom Trinity comes in times of crisis.
One of Holy TrinityThe s greatest strengths lie in the production design led by Los Angeles-based artist and music producer Mood Killer. Every room in Trinity’s apartment is expertly monochrome and there is a clear blend of futuristic branding intertwined with the surrounding city. The mainstream brand “Glamhag” is fully realized with a colorful but soulless style, reminiscent of seemingly friendly societies.
Holy Trinity may not give all he wants to cover the same amount of attention, but he leaves his audience with a lot to think about, from folding politics, to becoming a god, and to subordinate interpersonal and within frames societal. Most important, Holy Trinity is a movie explicitly for queer people – and it’s not at all concerned with the approval of a heteronormative, sex-negative audience. v