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A very odd exploitation of eternal social and religious questions.
Set on a contemporary college campus with flashbacks to prehistoric times, this very odd film attempts to question the meaning of love, the nature of God, and the role of the church in establishing societal boundaries. It's also one of relatively few films to feature perennial 70s-80s TV talk show host Dick Cavett on the big screen. Cavett, who rarely shied away from controversial subjects, appears as himself. Sam Bottoms plays a young priest who teaches religion at a Florida Catholic college. A rising star within church hierarchy, Bottoms is selected to go on Cavett's show to defend traditional church teachings about God against an author (and ex-priest) who has written a book suggesting God was created within the human mind. Bottoms accepts the assignment, but at the same time begins to have his own doubts about his commitment to the priesthood. Despite his vow of celibacy, he finds himself increasingly infatuated with a beautiful young student (Renee Coleman) who makes a play for his affections. Coleman, whose role is part naive schoolgirl, part calculated seductress, seems to have little trouble getting under Bottoms' skin or challenging his orthodox beliefs. The priest becomes increasingly obsessed with her while at the same time trying to maintain a state of denial about their mutual sexual attraction. Many of the issues raised here are eternal, if hardly original, and I found the film reasonably entertaining. Least effective, I thought, were the repeated flashbacks to prehistoric times. While apparently intended to be symbolic about the origins of concepts of God, these scenes really didn't tell or add much to the otherwise contemporary story, in my opinion. If anything, they just seemed calculated to add more nudity to the film. This reminded me more of a classic drive-in B-movie from the golden days of exploitation in the 70s rather than one from the late 80s. Within that context I thought it was pretty good.
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