‘Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire’ follows Carlo and Margherita who are deeply in love. However, something enters their relationship and causes them to doubt everything, including themselves.
Margherita, a realtor, shows her clients a sprawling house that she secretly desires. Carlo surprises her during the showing by pretending to be one of her clients. Carlo and Margherita have clearly been in love and lust for each other for the past 5 years. Carlo is a novelist and English professor who has hit a wall.
It’s been four years since he finished his first book, which was inspired by meeting Margherita, and he’s looking for something to help him finish his second. Even though they can’t afford it right now, he wants to buy a house and have children. So he tells Margherita that they can get the house they saw the other day as soon as he finishes the novel. She decides to keep the house off the market in order to buy them some time.
Carlo begins to form a bond with one of his students, Sofia, while assisting her in writing. Somehow, this new borderline inappropriate relationship is causing him to write his novel as well. There is a palpable sexual tension in the air as Margherita’s new masseur, Andrea, tries to work out knots in her body.
A student reports Sofia and Carlo to the dean after seeing them together in the women’s restroom. They are interrogated separately but they both stick to the same story and say that it was a misunderstanding and Carlo was only helping Sofia, who had fainted. Margherita however has a hard time believing Carlo’s version of what transpired between him and Sofia in the bathroom. This incident opens the floodgate of lies, deceit, distrust and desire.
Margherita meets Sofia but is still not convinced of their story so she goes to Sofia’s place when she’s not around and snoops through her belongings. To her dismay she finds Carlo’s unfinished novel’s copy there. Margherita and Carlo have a huge fight about this and Sofia goes to stay with her mother for a few days.
An overwhelmed Sofia momentarily contemplates leaving Milan and going back home but she decides to stay after some convincing from Carlo. Margherita and Carlo make up and pretend like nothing’s wrong. Margherita ends up befriending Andrea, while Carlo and Sofia spend more time together.
Sofia and her fellow classmates attend an event at the university after which her and Carlo share a passionate kiss. Margherita meets Andrea and gives into her temptations as they have an intimate moment in the backseat of a taxi. Margherita compares their situation to “musicians on the Titanic who keep playing while it sinks” and leaves Carlo.
Carlo is fired from work after another report from a student who apparently saw him and Sofia together. Sofia goes to her hometown and gives her father something she wrote. In the heartfelt piece she opens up about the truth behind her mother’s death. Margherita finally lets go of the house she had been holding on to all this while and sells it to a couple.
Margherita and her mother have a heartfelt conversation, where they openly talk about the affair her father had that went on for years. Carlo meets Sofia in her hometown and they spend sometime together before he heads back to Milan looking for an ending to his novel. He finally gets the ending when he sees Margherita and Andrea together.
If you still have doubts about the ending, here’s a full breakdown.
Devotion, a Story of Love and Desire ending explained in detail:
6 years back
Carlo is in a cafe, reading a book when Margherita arrives for a drink. Carlo leaves his phone on the table, prompting Margherita to rush out and chase him down the street, attempting to reclaim it. But she slips and falls on the floor, injuring her ankle. This is the same injury she has been taking therapy for.
Carlo flirts with Margherita a little when his phone finally rings from work, as she admires his Tchaikovsky ringtone. She walks him to the hospital, where she happens to be. This is how their relationship started.
Margherita and Carlo haven’t spoken for the past one year and have some unfinished business. While she is opening her own studio, he is attending Sofia’s book release. Margherita and Andrea are still friends but don’t seem to be romantically involved, same with Carlo and Sofia.
Margherita’s mother has been taken in to the hospital with a fracture and Carlo who was with her at that time calls her there. Carlo and Margherita have changed a lot since the last time they met. Seeing Margherita stronger and more confident has reawakened old feelings for Carlo.
Carlo is given a large opportunity to work in Paris. This would necessitate a departure from Milan, Sofia, and Margherita. It is unclear if he takes it or not.
The ambiguous end
Carlo calls in the midst of Margherita’s studio opening to apologize for his absence. With Tchaikovsky playing in the background, he accurately describes her surroundings, including what she’s wearing. As it turns out, he’s standing outside in the street, staring at her through the window.
It is clear that their last meet is quite similar to their first meet. Margherita walks outside and they catch up and lament on how their marriage was never going to work, regardless of the misunderstanding that started it all.
Carlo admits that the changes he’s gone through since they split up were inspired by her, which is a lovely tribute to their marriage. In the street, they kiss as Carlo inquires about their future plans. As she walks back inside, she smiles and tells him it’s up to him.
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