Film Review by Kam Williams
Pedophile Priests Repent at Secluded Retreat in Unsettling Drama Set in Chile
The critically-acclaimed Spotlight recently addressed the problem of pedophilia in the priesthood from the point of view of the victims. But if you’re looking for a take on the issue more sympathetic to the perpetrators, have I got a movie for you.
Nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Foreign Language Film category, The Club is a disturbing, deliberately-paced drama for the very open-minded directed by Pablo Larrain (Post Mortem). The picture is set at a mountaintop estate nestled along the Chilean seacoast where a half-dozen defrocked clergymen have been sent to repent.
The secluded retreat is run with a firm hand by Sister Monica (Antonia Zegers), a disgraced nun with a checkered past of her own. Nevertheless. it’s her job to enforce house rules dictated by the Vatican including no communication with outsiders, no cell phones, no self-pleasuring, no self-flagellation, and a vow of poverty.
Consequently, the former pastors’ Spartan-like daily regime consists of little more than chores, attending mass, confessing their sins and praying the rosary between meals. Still, there is much to be gleaned from the clerics’ conversations among themselves.
This one feigns innocence, claiming, “I didn’t commit a crime. I’m not a queer.” Another, ostensibly wracked with guilt, eventually finds a gun and shoots himself in the head, when he can no longer live with himself. And there’s an unrepentant soul who says “I see the light of the Lord in homosexuality,” arguing that man-boy love brings one closer to God than heterosexuality.
Rules are made to be broken, and the plot thickens when a housemate sneaks into town where he forges a friendship with a fellow pederast offering to procure all the local kids he’d like to rape. Will he or won’t he take the creep up on the offer?
An eerily-unsettling examination of pedophilia from the perspective of the perpetrators suggesting that these sex offenders might not be monsters, but merely misunderstood children of God.
Very Good (3 stars)
In Spanish with subtitles
Running time: 97 minutes
Distributor: Music Box Films