A young and compassionate debut characteristic by author/administrators Mark Slutsky and Sarah Watts, the latter of whom grew up homosexual in a Jehovah’s Witness group, “You Can Dwell Eternally” lets the romantic pressure between its protagonists construct slowly and naturally, in stolen glances and small touches. As Jaime and Marike circle one another, without delay exhilarated and agonized by each other’s firm, this ’90s-set movie lingers within the uncertainty of past love and within the nervous surprise of queer craving. 

Slutsky and Watts are equally fascinated with what occurs after Marike one evening follows a prayer with a passionate kiss, and as soon as she and Jaime embark on a forbidden affair behind closed doorways (or inside movie-theater toilet stalls, because it have been). That group elders would cease the connection is known from the outset. Even Marike’s suspicious older sister (Deragh Campbell) should be averted. However “You Can Dwell Eternally” finds its most potent distillation of the battle between love and religion in Marike herself, who fervently believes, like the opposite Witnesses, that Armageddon is imminent and, not like the opposite Witnesses, that the long-promised “new system of issues” will permit her and Jaime to be collectively, perpetually. And if Jaime doesn’t share her beliefs? Then, Marike solutions, “I can imagine sufficient for the each of us.”

Considering devotion, whether or not to an individual or the next energy, as a type of endurance born of blind religion, “You Can Dwell Eternally” takes care to not criticize its characters for his or her trustworthy convictions. It’s empathetic even in the way it treats the group’s authority figures, who’re well mannered and infrequently unkind however at all times act from a spot of religion. This strategy, in flip, sharpens the movie’s actual critiques: of closed-mindedness, of cultures of concern and isolation, and of the hazard that indoctrination poses to younger individuals nonetheless growing their senses of self.

Few movies have been made about Jehovah’s Witnesses; even fewer have engaged significantly with the strict insularity of their perception system, although that’s began to vary in recent times. Dea Kulumbegashvili’s “Starting” and Daniel Kokotajlo’s “Apostasy” explored the results of patriarchal submission for girls within the religion. Richard Eyre’s “The Youngsters Act” critiqued its non secular opposition to blood transfusions. In its understated, unassuming method, “You Can Dwell Eternally” provides a extremely nuanced depiction of the sect’s membership, sympathizing with these born into the faith, accepting those that’ve embraced it as adults, and implicating its cloistered, authoritarian stricture all the identical. 

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