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a watchable but flawed take on the Catholic Church
Pity the poor congregation of St. Francis Parish, subject to "dialogue sermons" (what???), autobiographical psycho-babble and in the end, self-righteous calls to rise up against the local Church hierarchy. If things are really like this in the Catholic Church today, its enough to make this lapsed Catholic stay that way for a long time. That said, and hoping that this does not mirror reality, the movie works as entertainment, largely due to the performances of the two main characters. Jack Lemmon is delightful and convincing as a lonely priest who has found strategies (some decent ones, some hurtful) to survive who takes on the task of mentoring and tempering the well-meaning but naive passions of a young seminarian, also well played. The big casualty is in the one-dimensionality of the "heavy" played by Charles Durning, and perhaps of all of his cronies as well. Well, Catholic bashing is nothing new, mostly by ex-Catholics, but it always diminishes the dialogue such issues could provoke. However, there is more to the movie than this, especially in some very good characterizations of Catholic lay people, Louise Latham's housekeeper in particular.
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