Damned If You Don’t

Damned If You Don’t is Friedrich’s subversive and ecstatic response to her Catholic upbringing. Blending conventional narrative technique with impressionistic camerawork, symbols and voice-overs, this film creates an intimate study of sexual expression and repression. Featuring Peggy Healey as a young nun tormented by her desire for the sultry irresistible Ela Troyano.


“As ‘the narrative form that takes desire as its subject’, melodrama offers a more logical site than science fiction for cinematic investigations of the connections and disjunctures among sex, gender, and desire. Damned If You Don’t, Su Friedrich’s makeover (and more) of Black Narcissus, successfully adopts this strategy, highlighting how much Black Narcissus and melodrama in general are predicated on the assumption that all desire is heterosexual. Snipping up, then reconstructing Powell and Pressburger’s original tragedy of unrequited (white) heterosexual love, madness and death, Friedrich instead proposes a narrative with a happy ending for lesbians: for once the (Latina) girl, not the boy, gets the (white) girl, and no one dies or goes insane. By the end of Damned If You Don’t, lesbianism is no longer a sickly copy of a healthy heterosexual original.”

Chris Holmlund1

  • 1. Chris Holmlund, Play It Again, Sam. Retakes on Remakes, Andrew Horton and Stuart Y. McDougal, red., (Los Angeles: University of California Press), 224.