'Creo en Dios' takes its title from the first words of the apostles' creed in Spanish. This Mexican film was made more than a decade before Alfred Hitchcock's Canadian film 'I Confess', yet there are startling parallels between them.
In 'I Confess', a Catholic commits a murder and then confesses the deed to his priest, attaining absolution for the sin if not for the earthly crime. When the priest becomes falsely suspected of the murder, he is unable to exonerate himself by naming the killer. Alfred Hitchcock was educated in a Catholic seminary, and apparently he genuinely accepted some aspects of Catholic dogma. In 'I Confess', the priest is genuinely *incapable* of naming the murderer, because God prevents the priest from violating the secrets of the confessional: Hitchcock seemed to accept the dogmatic truth of this. But non-Catholic film audiences did not, and 'I Confess' was a flop at the box office.
Here in 'Creo en Dios' we have the same premise, with slightly different results. A murder is committed in a Mexican village. The murderer's identity is known to the audience: he is Antonio (Miguel Inclán). The only villager who knows that Antonio is guilty is his wife Carmen (Isabela Corona).
Father Bernal (Fernando Soler) is hearing confession in his church. When Carmen blurts out her own sins to the priest, he realises that Carmen's husband is the killer. Yet Bernal's priestly vows prevent him from divulging this information to the authorities. But then Father Bernal is suspected of the murder. He cannot clear himself without violating his vows...
I found 'Creo en Dios' slightly more plausible than Hitchcock's version of this premise. Whereas Hitchcock seemed to believe (and expected us to believe) that some supernatural barrier prevented his priest from speaking the truth, in 'Creo en Dios' it is clear to us that Father Bernal *is* physically capable of speaking the truth, but chooses not to do so because he holds his priestly vows to be more sacred -- and more important -- than his own innocence and his personal freedom.
SPOILERS COMING NOW. Somewhat less plausibly, Bernal chooses to keep schtum because he fervently believes that Antonio's conscience will impel him to confess. Amazingly enough, this happens.
My greatest problem with 'Creo en Dios' is that it's far too long, too slow and too talky. The characters' motivations are plausible only if we recognise that this is a community in which the religious beliefs have been embedded so deeply as to become superstition. In our modern world, murders are committed every day of the week by people who feel no pricking of conscience. 'Creo en Dios' manages to be slightly more plausible than Hitchcock's treatment of this theme, but there isn't so much as a shadow of Hitchcock's cinematic skill on view in this boring morality play. I'll rate this movie 2 points out of 10.
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