It is in the laws of nature that everything living is constantly growing, and sometimes while growing up, they grow apart. As emotional beings, we try to stop that growth because we are often afraid of change or separation. But change, like the seeds of nature, finds the tiniest of gaps to thrive in, and cracks wide open everything and anything that comes in between. The Netflix Italian series “Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire,” or Fidelity, depicts this specific seed of doubt in the married life of Carlo Pentecoste and Margherita “Margh” Verna, who try to protect their marriage, but the crack soon grows wider and wider, destroying all the feelings that they once shared.
“Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire” Season 1 consists of 6 episodes of approximately 40 minutes each that follow the slowly deteriorating married life of Margh and Carlo, who, unhappy in their marriage, get involved in infidelity. Unfaithfulness, therefore, becomes the underlying theme of the Italian series, which tries to point out that all married couples, at one point or another, cheat on each other for reasons that could be many.
However, in Margh and Carlo’s lives, the downfall begins with a doubt that soon makes them realize the lack of passion that has crept into their relationship and is slowly contaminating it from within, whose cause-and-effect is rotting them as individuals as well, leading to the death of their dreams and passion. The couple decides to part their ways to save each other, but no matter how far they go or how many people they see, the invisible strings and memories between them constantly remind them of the love they once shared. What will happen to Margh and Carlo? Will they get together? Or is there still hope left? Let’s find out.
‘Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire’ Plot Summary
Carlo Pentecoste (Michele Riondino) is a writer, who has published one book in four years and is struggling to write another while he works as a professor for a writing program at UCM (University for the Creative Arts in Milan). In his modest salary, Carlo can only afford a single bedroom apartment where he lives with his wife, Margherita “Margh” Verna (Lucrezia Guidone), who is an architect and wants to be an interior designer but to support her husband, work as a real estate agent.
“Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire” begins as Margh gives a couple (client) a tour of a Concordia property that is both lavish and favorably located away from the tall towers of the city. During the tour, Carlo shows up at Concordia pretending to be one of Margh’s clients, establishing the passionate and intimate relationship the couple share.
Later, while attending Carlo’s mother’s birthday, his father, a surgeon by profession, takes a dig at his artistic son and pushes him to get a nice apartment, at least to get a permanent roof over their heads. Carlo and Margh ponder the thought of buying Concordia even though they couldn’t afford it, believing it would give Carlo a push to finish his book soon. As a result, Margh deceitfully removes the selling board from in front of the house, believing that their dream life will soon begin, when tragedy strikes.
Carlo has a student in his writing program named Sofia Casadei, who hails from Rimini and has come to Milan to become a writer. Sofia struggles from a childhood trauma, the death of her mother in an accident (which she later realizes was an act of suicide), because of which she constantly suffers mental strokes and fails to pen down her thoughts fluently. During an exercise, Carlo asks his students to write their autobiographies, and while remembering the incident, Sofia starts suffocating and runs to the ladies’ bathroom, where Carlo follows her out of concern. When Carlo tries to comfort Sophia in the ladies’ room, suddenly she hugs him, and another girl walking inside the bathroom watches them sharing a moment.
Soon after the incident, the principal interrogates Carlo and questions his integrity, but when Sofia clears the air, the principal buries the matter without any further discussion. Carlo casually brings the topic to Margh, who gets obsessed with the revelations and starts investigating Carlo, believing that her husband is indeed cheating on her with a 20-year-old student. The seed of doubt leads to devastating twists and turns in their married life, which convince Margh to cheat on her husband with her physiotherapist, Andrea. The acts of infidelity bring her out of her husband’s shadow, thereby making her more courageous to take more challenges in life, ultimately influencing her to finally give up on her personal and professional life and start anew.
The Acts of Infidelity
Margh’s trips to the hotel with Andrea became more frequent as, in these adventures, the risk of lying to her husband and cheating on him brought a lost passion in Margh’s life, which she had been missing for a long time. On the other hand, Carlo, who told everyone that Sofia was just a student and there was nothing going on between them, started feeling envious when Sofia started dating another student from the class. Carlo couldn’t concentrate on his writing and instead ended up stalking Sofia on the internet, unaware of the fact that his wife was cheating on him under his nose.
The question at this point was, for how long will this infidelity take place, and what will be the end of it? Hence, it was Margh who took the first bold step and walked out of Carlo’s life because she didn’t want to continue the passionless, futile, and dead relationship any longer. Her act was motivated by two strong reasons, one of which was the revelation that she found postcards written by her father to his lover that established that he was cheating on Margh’s mother, Loretta. The second reason was that Margh felt suffocated while hiding her secret life from Carlo. Andrea rekindled the lost fire inside her soul, and Margh was ready to accept the new chapters of her life instead of shuffling between the dead ones.
On the night of the symposium, Carlo was arrested for trespassing in a park, and at that same time, Margh was with Andrea. Carlo called Margh to bring his ID and bail him out of the station and subtly asked her where she was at this moment of the night while all dressed up for a party. At first, Margh avoided the question, but the emotions were building up inside her, and she knew that it was time to burn the bridge of lies and walk out of the dying marriage, which sooner or later would drown both of them. Margh and Carlo separated that night, and while Margh was certain where she was heading, for Carlo, it was a darkened road ahead.
Sofia’s boyfriend saw Sofia and Carlo sneaking into the park and reported the same to the principal out of jealousy, after which Carlo lost his job. With no job and no wife to share the grief of it, Carlo decided to follow his passion and unravel the blanket of lies that he had been telling himself and everyone around him. He visited Rimini to see Sofia and expressed his feelings towards her, but even this seemed like an act of infidelity because Carlo probably didn’t love Sofia or want to spend the rest of his life with her (kind of thing). For Carlo, too, the interaction with Sofia was a test of his loyalty, in which he failed miserably, but it at least made him realize that he was indeed unhappy in his marriage.
‘Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire’ Ending Explained
After every addiction comes withdrawal, and during that phase, there are severe chances of a rebound. It happened in Margh’s case who came back to Carlo’s apartment and cleaned it and decided to text him to tell him that she was missing him, but instead asked Carlo to meet him in the same cafe where they met for the first time. When Carlo received the text, he was in Rimini with Sofia, who persuaded Carlo to find the ending of his book or his married life, to be precise.
When Carlo came back to Milan, he saw Margh kissing Andrea, who had come to drop off Margh. Moments before this scene, Margh told Andrea that she wanted to end this secret relationship before it turned into responsibility and died a slow death or turned into a nightmare. It can be speculated that Margh wanted to stop cheating on her husband and save their relationship so they could continue their marriage with new spirits, but Carlo never showed up for the meeting. In his rage at the revelations, Carlo went home and deleted his half-finished book, titled “One Man, One Woman,” because indeed there was no longer a single man or woman in this story.
The couple finally separated, and a year later, Carlo took a desk job under his editor, Luca, where, instead of a writer, he started finding new talented writers willing to publish their books. Carlo even pitched Sofia’s novel, “The Way Things Are.” Impressed by Carlo’s eye for talent, Luca offered him a job in Paris to find more rare talents in France. Luca wanted Carlo to move out of his cocoon and start afresh because he was still stuck with memories of Margh and couldn’t possibly forget her, and due to it, his personal life was in total ruin.
On the other hand, after leaving Andrea, Margh started seeing an artist named Marcello and even fulfilled her dream of opening her own studio, “Studio Verna,” near Concordia. The ex-lovers crossed paths again during the operation of Margh’s mother, where they realized that both of them knew everything about them even if they were not talking to each other. All of Margh and Carlo’s common friends and relatives wanted the couple to get back, but their future was uncertain until the very end of the series.
Margh discreetly visited Sophia’s book launch and quickly left. After the event, Carlo told Sophia that he would be leaving for Paris, and thus it indicated that Carlo would be leaving both Sophia and Margh to begin again. During the ending sequence of “Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire,” Carlo appeared outside “Studio Verna” and called out to Margh, where the couple looked at sold Concordia and reminisced about how it all began with the house and would most likely end with it. Carlo revealed to Margh that it was only after he lost her that he realized the importance of her, and the void left by her inspired him to become a better person and hence expressed his gratitude towards her.
Before leaving, Margh kissed Carlo, to which Carlo asked, “What now?” Margh answers, “Let’s see what you come up with,” which is the exact line that Margh told Carlo six years ago when she met him in the hospital, and soon their relationship blossomed. Hence, maybe these passionate desires towards each other would compel the couple to spin the wheel again and push them to make efforts to seek each other, which would probably give them a chance to start anew and bring in intimacy into their relationship, the lack of which brought dullness and monotonicity into the same. However, the question here is, will Carlo still leave for Paris, especially when he knows that he still has a chance to get back to Margh? Only a second season of “Devotion: A Story of Love and Desire” will be able to tell it better.
‘Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire’ is a 2022 Italian Romance Drama series directed by Stefano Cipani and Andrea Molaioli. It is based on the novel written by Mario Missiroli. Season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix.