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Strong, complex, well-acted religious drama
dromasca8 February 2004
You need to have watched a few BBC dramas, and like the style in order to really appreciate this film. It may seem slow in the eyes of viewers used with the American cinema approach, but I tremor to the thought of how Hollywood could have spoiled this film, and I am happy that the script fell in Brits hands first. 'Priest' is a complex film, dealing with hard issues of incest and homo-sexuality, but first with the conflict between the priest mission as a moral leader and the Procustian laws of the Catholic church he needs to obeye by. The ideological content may be controversial for many, it was partly for me as well, but I cannot help admiring the well kept balance, the dramatic tension, and the masterful way the excellent team of actors is filling the roles. I wonder how comes that Linus Roache is not a bigger star after having made this film about one decade ago. He certainly deserves to be in the same line as some of his generation colleagues who have succeeded that well in American and world cinema.

Yes, the film is controversial, you may not agree with some of the ideas and it looks sometimes as a cinema manifest, but it is still a good and human film. I less liked the final, which is the only place in the script where art logic seems to surrender to the religious concepts. 9/10 on my personal scale.
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Journey of Growth and the Heart of Forgiveness
gpadillo23 August 2005
11 years after its release, I finally got around to watching one of 1994's most controversial films. I don't know what took me so long.

This is the story of Father Greg Pilkington, an idealistic young priest appalled by the liberal-thinking, older priest he shares a congregation with. Clashes and airs of superiority from Father Greg set up, almost calculatedly, his crushing and inevitable fall from grace. Try as he might, Father Greg, pious and as intolerant as ever, cannot suppress his sexuality and takes to the gay bar scene. A casual pick up turns into an affair which in turn becomes a personal and professional disaster as an equally intolerant society pushes him towards wrongful arrest and a verdict of "guilty." Father Greg becomes the object of derision and hatred by the bigoted, close minded community, itself a reflection of all the young priest exhibited in but a show of intolerance and sanctimoniousness.

The real heart of this picture occurs in the confessional when a desperate young girl tells of ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Eventually, this information becomes a test of faith for Father Greg as he questions his spirituality, the laws of the church and God himself.

During all of this the older priest, Father Matthew, preaches of "the trappings of power" that the Church has saddled itself with - and how the trappings have gotten in the way of the message of God, of love, of tolerance, of patience and compassion. As might be expected, the Church's higher ups have little patience for this sort of talk - and the congregation itself shuns Father Greg turning mass into an explosive show of blind eyed fanaticism.

As Father Greg, Linus Roche gives a searing, searching performance as the young tormented priest. His fall and redemption, the center of the story, comes across with an earnestness that steers clear of sensationalism, despite the loaded message of the movie. Tom Wilkinson, as ever, gives a performance that is as natural and believable - and likable - as anything he's done before or since. (Side note: having waited so long to watch this it's interesting to see these two actors with important roles in this year's new and glorious Batman Begins.) A truly remarkable and emotional film.
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Definitely one of the most controversial films in cinema history
Dana Wang27 February 2004
Father Greg Pilkinton (Linus Roache) is a young, dedicated, idealistic and yet conservative (comparing to his colleague, Father Matthew Thomas, played by Tom Wilkinson) priest who has recently arrived in his new parish. He works hard with total faith and devotion. Soon after moving in to Father Matthew's house, he discovers that Father Matthew has been having a relationship with his maid. Later on, a school girl, Lisa (Christine Tremarco) confesses to him that her father has been sexually abusing her, Father Greg faces his inner struggle on whether to reveal the truth to the authority, or remain silent in order not to break his vow.

Confused and frustrated, Father Greg goes to a pub and meets Graham (Robert Carlyle) and later they have sex. They are to stay in an on-and-off relationship. Now Father Greg must confront his human desire and his sexuality. Eventually, he also has to deal with his being arrested while making love in a parked car and the devastating consequences.

This film challenges the entire system. Must a priest (or a nun) remain celibate? Should we leave out non-heterosexuals for being Catholics or whatever? Must a priest remain silent when hearing a serious problem or even an about-to-be-committed crime (which happens all the time in Northern Ireland) and do nothing? Can all priests honestly give themselves away completely to God and refrain from letting their human emotion, human desire flow? Don't some priests become child molesters because they've been trying to repress their human desire for too long (this seems outside the subject. On the other hand, not all priests commit such a crime)? Should we refuse to show compassion towards certain people simply because they are different from us and that their life styles are 'not accepted' by society or the usual moral standard? Still, who is the hypocrite here? Father Matthew's relationship with his housekeeper has never been revealed. If otherwise, he would be rejected, too. He leads a double life. Being a 'liberal' priest and breaking his vow of celibacy at the same time. But WHO are the hypocrites? Aren't we all?

'Priest' is not about a story of one priest. It's about any one priest. And the movie is compelling and well-made. One thing for sure, the Roman Catholic Church would not be pleased with this film.
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Powerful and Intense
John2 August 2003
The ending of this film at the communion rail, is the MOST powerful scene I have ever seen in any movie for a long long time. It will have you sobbing like a baby, guaranteed. Film is an emotion charged look at the Catholic Church's problems and cover-ups concerning a closeted guilt ridden gay priest's sexual desires, and a little girl being molested by her disgusting father who relates in the confessional not for penance, but to tell the priest it is his right and not to interfere. Priest has guilt over his sexuality and about the confession, but he can not tell about the girl because of church rules. Meanwhile it's found out about his being gay with parish congregation and church hierarchy is in an uproar. Linus Roache plays gay priest. His performance is outstanding. Very thought provoking movie. makes you think for weeks afterward about guilt and redemption. I gave it 10/10. This movie blew me away with it's intense plotting, powerful themes and the courage to film it with such insight. Recommend this film very highly but have a box of tissue for final 5 minutes. I warned you.
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Thought provoking
cleobrag7228 August 2006
Insightful movie. Makes you reflect a lot on the reality of those who embrace celibacy as priests. There are issues in today's world that affect priests and their commitment as ministers in the Church that this movie brings out very well. It might have been considered a very provocative movie when it came out, but it honestly reflects Church reality in some countries. It makes you realize the humanness of priests and the emotional, moral and spiritual problems they grapple with. I liked the ending the best - the only one in the Church capable of forgiving and accepting the gay priest, was the young girl who had been abused by her father and who had confided in the priest. Very touching and realistic.
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Excellent Film
endymion827 October 2001
PRIEST is one of those movies that is so surrounded by controversy, few people ever remember to evaluate it purely as art, which is a shame because it's really an incredible film. As a writer, I was blown away the first time I saw this movie because the script is so excellent: every character in the film, from the lead priest to the maid, seems to have something at stake in the plot, be it religious morals, sexual happiness, love, personal fulfillment, honesty, duty or physical safety. The characters grow out of the situation in a way that's surprisingly organic in today's movie scene, where often the plot seems to be incidental to the characters, or vice versa. Regardless of your take on the issues, I think you have to admire that they are being presented, not just talked about, and the film does an excellent job of balancing both the potential enormousness of the questions it raises, and the intimate, personal nature of its story. After the script, another reason to love PRIEST is the performances: it is one of those few movies where absolutely everyone is excellent, from Roache and Wilkinson, down to bit players like the irate Housekeeper at the priest retreat and the young reporter who tries to corner Roache after his hearing. The film is shot very well, especially considering they could have gotten away with a fairly straightforward point and shoot: but no, we got so amazingly well framed shots of the North Sea, England in winter, industrial vistas... And yes, whether you agree with its stance or not, kudos to the movie for taking a plethora of tough subjects like homosexuality, religious guilt, incest and life on earth vs. life in heaven, and dealing with them in a mature and often compassionate manner (as opposed to say, the way Kevin Smith deals with them in DOGMA). All in all, an excellent film. Watch it with an open mind, and a keen artistic eye.
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Should be embraced by the church.
Bill Jordan31 July 2006
I just caught this movie on cable, and found it to be one of the most touching I've seen. I'm Roman Catholic, and unless you are the type to blindly follow the tenants of your faith without question, you will likely find the questions raised by this film familiar. It really makes no difference whether the Priest is gay or straight, as human beings, they are undoubtedly often caught between the desire to respond to normal human needs and the requirements of the church. And while the Catholic church provides the setting, much of what the older priest says in his sermon regarding what God finds worthy of His attention can be applied to most any religion, as can the discussion near the end between the angry parishioners and the younger priest upon his return from exile. There are some very emotional moments in the film, not the least of which is the ending. As Catholics, we tend to forget that priests are human beings. This movie shows us that they are. I will warn you that, if you tend to cringe at the portrayal of gay attraction (as I do), you WILL find yourself doing so at various points in this film ("Brokeback Mountain" has nothing on "Priest"), but nothing is ever presented in poor taste or gratuitously, in my opinion. A film definitely worth viewing.

On a side note, I counted at least 5 performers in "Priest" that also appear in "The Full Monty." Guess they needed to do something a bit lighter after this one.
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Stirring, controversial, well-acted religious pot-boiler - still, a mixed blessing.
gbrumburgh11 April 2001
From the symbolic introductory scene of "Priest" wherein an old, weary-looking priest yanks a huge crucifix from the church altar, proceeds to carry it through the streets of his impoverished town as if he were Jesus himself, and proceed to bash through the door of his presbytery, you know you're in for something different - stimulating, controversial, thought-provoking. "Priest" is VERY MUCH that movie.

The old priest's clerical replacement comes in the form of Father Greg (Linus Roache, in a star-making role), a young, fair-haired, boyishly handsome visionary who, with typically youthful verve, strives to bring the Catholic Church directly to the people (well, to the Catholics, anyway), and receives his actions with decidedly mixed feelings. The older priest still in residence, Father Matthew (the excellent Tom Wilkinson), who has long settled into amiable apathy, inclines toward drink while maintaining a relatively clandestine relationship with his black, attractively careworn housekeeper (the underused Cathy Tyson). There is initial friction as the Old and New Worlds collide. Father Matthew dismisses Father Greg's modernistic sermons, while Father Greg frowns upon Father Matthew's casual stance on papal celibacy. Eventually, we learn Father Greg has his own difficulty with celibacy...but with other men.

As the story proceeds, we are drawn into the emotional and moral struggles of Father Greg as he wrestles not only with his own social and spiritual ethics, but those of his parish. In one particularly chilling confessional scene, a male member of the parish practically flaunts his sexual desires while "justifying" his incestuous advances toward his teenage daughter.

"Priest" is an important, ambitious project and yields emotional power in its depiction of moral adversity. But it's a mixed blessing. Some of the scenes come off overbaked and melodramatic, while the resolution of the piece should be more powerful and less compromising; instead it comes off manufactured and unrealistic, hurting its overall impact.

In fairness, "Priest" does bring out the hypocrisy in both priests, as well as the parish. Nobody comes off saintly here, just flawed and human. An interesting bi-note is that there have been no comments in the fact that the elder priest is having a sexual relationship with a BLACK housekeeper. Forty years ago, according to religious purists, the Bible interpreted ethnically mixed relationships and marriages as abominations as well. At least some headway HAS been made.

Is "Priest" anti-Catholic in its message? To an extent, yes. The Catholic's Church's unyielding, unprogressive, medieval doctrines are brought to task here, never more pointedly than in the scene where Father Greg, agonizing over whether to prevent the continued sexual abuse of the young girl and report the father to authorities, or respect the confidentiality of the confessional and remain silent, reluctantly chooses the latter.

While I deem this movie to be a stronger platform for social tolerance, `Priest' still drums home beautifully the message that organized religion is still used as a tool to govern instead of instill moral standards, particularly in other countries, and as a persecutive weapon against certain sectors of society that do not conform to those rigid standards. As a consequence, the Church has provided a comforting harbor and hazardous safety zone for certain "acceptable" bigotries.

We need more brave, topical films like "Priest" to confront such important social issues and display them front-and-center.
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Moving and powerful
preppy-313 June 2006
A young handsome Catholic priest Father Greg (Linus Roache) starts at a new parish in London. He butts heads with the older and more lenient Father Matthew (Tom Wilkinson) but they become friends. But Greg is gay and sneaks out to gay bars to meet men. He meets up with Graham (Robert Carlyle) and they fall in love--but Greg feels guilty about it. Also a young girl tells him in confession that her father is sexually using her--but he can't tell anybody. Slowly these two issues start to drive him crazy...

Excellent drama. This was attacked by the Catholic church (who didn't see it) as being anti-Catholic. Director Antonia Bird said she wasn't trying to blast the Catholic church--and she doesn't! She's pointing out some issues that the Catholic church has and should be dealt with. The church is not demonized--they show the good and the bad. The film is well-written--I never thought theological discussions could be interesting but they are! Also they don't pull back--there is some extreme anti-gay language but it is needed for the story. The sex scenes between Carlyle and Roache are pretty tame though--especially in the American version where they're edited (stupid censors!).

The acting is superb. Carlyle is just excellent: Wilkinson was also good but Roache is just incredible. You see the pain in his face and feel his struggle trying to reconcile his faith with his orientation. The most powerful sequence comes when he breaks down in front of a cross begging God to help him.

I don't want to make it sound like this is all gloom and doom. There are some very funny moments mixed in too. The ending is sad but realistic (unfortunately). A powerful and moving film. A must-see. 10 all the way.
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Very intelligent and beautiful piece of film making
Bogey Man20 May 2002
Priest, by Antonia Bird, is very beautiful and also provocative film about faith, church, forgiveness and tolerance, which all have as many shapes as there are human beings. The film tells the story of a priest who arrives to new town and soon he notices some things he don't consider too acceptable, and learns also that incredible and selfish evil lives inside every human being, including himself.

The film is a powerful study about religion and many ways to interpret and obey its orders. How can a priest do his "good" job as he is rotten and evil inside and there is always the chance of Sin lurking somewhere? The main point is that no human is purely good and without any flaws and everyone sins, priests too. The purification can be reach only by forgiving and being tolerant and loving towards others, and thus the peace of mind and happiness may be reached: trying to be as good as human being can. Forgiveness and love are the most important things and the film ends in extremely beautiful scene at the church, as at least one little person forgives the priest for his "crimes" and sees into the heart and soul of the priest. We cannot judge someone for something because there are no sinless people in the world. The narrow-mindedness is one problem the film deals with, and it is sad to see that these things take place in real life, too. The film is very deep and beautiful and also funny and it unfolds more and more with each viewing time. This should be seen by persons who "cannot forgive" someone for something he/she has done. What is the benefit people think they get by not forgiving someone and hating someone? As I mentioned, the power of love, forgiveness, and tolerance are the main themes of the film so there are no people in the world, who this film cannot be recommended. This is like Abel Ferrara's and his screenwriter's work, but not as fierce and relentless as their work. Priest is a little more restrained and "easier for everyone to watch" version of the themes of Ferrara and St. John.

Remarkable, beautiful, touching and forces the viewer to think. 9/10 masterpiece.
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Incredibly moving
uluru-17 August 2003
This movie was incredibly moving, especially the last 10 minutes. It accurately portrays the struggle one would go through, being Catholic, gay, and a priest, all at once. Yikes. The ending is very VERY powerful, and sends a strong message that we learn and grow through our suffering, and surviving our hardships enables us to help others. If you're up for an emotionally powerful movie, see this movie!! You'll love the ending!
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Powerful, Emotionally Harrowing
Bruce29 August 2003
The striking opening sequence of 'Priest' depicts an enraged elderly cleric, having learned he is being pushed into retirement, utilizing a large crucifix as a battering ram and raiding the offices of the bishop; the climax of the film is one of the most powerful, emotionally shattering scenes I have ever seen, imbued with forgiveness and redemption and humanity at its shining, courageous best, in the face of humanity at its self-righteous worst. In between is a searing indictment of the outdated practices of the Catholic Church and its breeding of intolerance and hate. Father Greg Pilkington (portrayed with astonishing clarity and mesmerizing, gut-wrenching passion by Linus Roache) is a young, idealistic priest who is more than a little put-off by his unorthodox partner, Father Matthew Thomas (a wonderful performance by the great Tom Wilkinson), who sings karaoke at the neighborhood pub and sleeps with the housekeeper. But Father Greg's smug little world soon begins to spin out of control as he attempts to deal with his own homosexuality and with a heartbreaking secret learned by him in the confessional. Roache's breathtaking performance is palpable and eloquently harrowing as Father Greg becomes more and more tortured by guilt and grief. Also in the film, in a winning, endearing turn, is Robert Carlyle (one of Wilkinson's cohorts in 'The Full Monty') as Graham, the object (and the victim) of Father Greg's affection. 'Priest' is a remarkable and revelatory piece of work, intelligent and gripping and deeply felt. Highly, highly recommended.
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I don't think it's about what most people think it's about.
trojanrabbit9711 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
--=POSSIBLE SPOILERS=-- Proceed With Caution

"Priest" could have been a truly great movie. I like it overall, but I confess from the start that I'm probably biased. I'm gay and nearly became a missionary for a Protestant faith that has strong prohibitions against homosexuality, so I can relate somewhat to Father Greg. I think that the weaknesses of "Priest" lay in the subplots. I was very disappointed in Father Matthew for his sexual relationship with the housekeeper and his unrepentant attitude. Regardless of whether priests should be allowed to marry, Father Matthew took a vow not to get sexually involved with someone so that he can devote himself more fully to his parish. I think his marital-style relationship was a betrayal of the trust that his parish placed in him. I also wasn't keen on Father Matthew's vulgar language during one of his sermons. While I appreciated the sentiment, I probably would have walked out, too. I very much liked Father Matthew, however, and his supportive relationship with Father Greg. The subplot with the incestual molestation added some great drama, but the dilemma about the confidentiality of confession borders on trite. Priest movies are almost as certain to include this story-line as submarine movies are to include that slow, terrifyingly tense descent below the maximum depth for which the sub was designed.

What I love about this movie is that it really isn't about whether homosexuality is OK. Father Greg never attempts to defend his fling with Graham. He acknowledges that it was a mistake and even asks for the parish's forgiveness. I think the movie is a story of human xenophobia, people's paranoid reaction to something they don't or can't fully understand. I think it's about the parish's venomous lashing out against Father Greg when they would have been much more understanding had he slept with a woman. He'd be breaking the same vow either way, but if he breaks it in a way that someone else can't relate to or understand, then just cancel Christmas.

I live in a very conservative college town whose students threw a fit when the the university's film club held screenings of this movie on campus. I wish I had seen it back then. I wish more people from this town had seen it. The film doesn't argue for or against homosexuality. I think you can watch this film without having your stance on the issue challenged. The film is about people's failure, specifically Christian people's failure, to react in a way that is responsible and caring and forgiving toward a neighbor who makes a mistake that they may not be able to fully understand.
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Judge not lest ye be judged..
dbdumonteil20 April 2004
Priests are not often the heroes of movies:some famous predecessors were Robert Bresson's "journal d'un curé de campagne" (1945),Luis Bunuel's "Nazarin" (1958) and Jean-Pierre Melville 's "Leon Morin prêtre" (1961).But none of these directors went as far as Antonia Bird .Their movies were perhaps esthetically better,but nothing shocking for people who were brought up religiously ,nothing like the pictures of this priest lying on a bed with his lover.One will add that Bunuel's movie was looked upon as "very Christian" by the Spanish censorship when it was exactly the contrary.But it's difficult to consider Bird's work a fable:it's a realistic story,where sex occupies the center of the plot:sex between the other priest and the housekeeper,sex between the father and his daughter,sex between Rochman and Carlyle .Bird's style,though depicting the poor sides of Liverpool is very different from Kenneth Loach's .Her pictures are polished up ,like the one in confessional where the incest father is speaking through the grille ,or the two lovers on the beach.

Bird's movie is very interesting because it broaches the problem of celibacy in the catholic religion (protestant priests are allowed to marry aren't they),and,as the hero remarks "Jesus did not ask for chastity did he?"A hero who is not always very smart:"be discreet" he tells to his colleague who sleeps with the housekeeper,but he kisses his lover in a car in broad daylight.

The final battle in the church is particularly interesting,because it's a battle of words,repeating quotations from the Bible,and there are so many ways of interpreting its meanings .It seems that the priest uses the New testament ( judge not lest...,Mary Magdelene, forgive not seven times but seventy)whereas his enemy draws from the old one (a man sleeping with a man is an abomination).

The seal of the confessional subject is not that much new however:even in 1953,Hitchcock made "I confess" in which Montgomery Clift was confronted to the same problem.

Best line;the older priest ,telling a shocked congregation that God is probably too busy to care about what men do with their d.....
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Intensely moving and moral film
bilahn8 August 2006
I just re-watched Priest after 12 years, and I think it is even more powerful and relevant now it was then, given the scandals in the Catholic Church and the rise of religious militancy and fundamentalism in the world.

While occasionally teetering on the brink of preachiness and soap opera, Priest is saved by tight direction and very fine acting. It effectively shows the humaness of people in the Church, as opposed to how some would have you believe.

As a person not all attached to organized religion, I obviously find much to approve of here. But the strength of Priest is that someone who loves the Catholic Church for what is really is, the teachings of Jesus, and not what cruel, irrational and ignorant human beings have made of it will find much to be enriched by here. Priest is not anti-Catholic at all, not in the true sense of the word. Rather, it is anti human folly.

Of course that segment that is fundamentalist and inflexible, who cannot imagine - horrors! - that a Priest could be gay have and will continue to express their moral outrage and call this "hate speech."

As a final note, I also happened to read Roger Ebert's inexplicible review of Priest. If I hadn't seen his name on it, I would think it was written by Michael Medved. Since Ebert is generally religion neutral and very gay positive, I simply don't understand his outrage at all - very puzzling indeed. And he gives Mel's hideous Passion of the Christ, one of the most immoral and disgusting movies ever made (again most especially if you ARE religious) a perfect 10.
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Certainty of Vocation, Humanity/Spirituality, Challenging Moral Issues
joshualieder24 December 2001
This film is worth watching but please be prepared to be challenged by the moral issues it raises, especially if you are Catholic. I am NOT Catholic but I enjoyed the film on many levels. Several of the scenes pack an emotional whallop and yet one stands out in my mind: The scene in which the central character, a young priest, shares his heart with another understanding priest, one he has replaced, who shares with him "You have certainty of vocation". This is one of several themes in this riveting film.

As someone praying to be of service to our Lord (and far from perfect myself) - I found the portrayal of the flawed men in the story interesting. The main character tries to keep morally and spiritually centered - despite handicaps - and in my opinion that's worth tuning in for.

This film is NOT an indictment of the Catholic church or ABOUT a homosexual Priest. If you see the world in a black/white way, then this film is NOT for you. If you, however, see its greys (or other colors) and live your life focused upon God or if you are trying to be of service to him, then this movie may be of interest to you.

I ebayed all my "Jesus interpretation films" such as Jesus Christ Superstar but I kept this spiritual film. Its that good. Peace!
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An incredibly well-acted, soulful drama
doeadear10 June 1999
I found this film to be one of the most incredibly well-acted films I have viewed in a long time. Linus Roache is a revelation as Father Greg Pilkington, who finds his sexual orientation conflicting with his religious faith. The film raises many issues, making the question of celibacy only one of many points. There is also hypocrisy, homophobia, shame, runs the gamut of emotions. Tom Wilkinson is also brilliant as the parish rector who is having an affair with his housemaid (Cathy Tyson). The deep-seeded condemnation of Father Greg, who truly wants to practice his religious faith but is shamed into a failed suicide attempt, is maddening. The first stone is cast repeatedly, and there are no easy conclusions. The film ends with a beautiful example of forgiveness and empathy. This is an excellent film.
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This film was unfairly judged by the church, and some critics
tbald1980-130 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I have wanted to write a review for this film for years. Now that I realize that God loves everyone unconditionally, I have even more respect for the film. Now, I wasn't raised Catholic but I have spoken with friends who are. I will say from what I understand, it's a very conservative religion and hard to live up to it's standards. I like this film for many reasons-one: I'm gay myself and still firmly believe in God. 2: the acting is incredible and very plausible-Linus Roache should have been Oscar nominated in my opinion, the rest of the main cast is amazing too. 3: the script though obviously not original is written with dignity and a sense of humor. The storyline centers around conservative priest Father Greg who has his secrets and his teamwork with Father Matthew. At first they're practically at each others throats due to different morales, but before long, his tone begins to change-he picks up a man at a gay bar, seduces him and then hears about child abuse from a girl at the hands of her unrepentant father. This revelation makes him question everything he knows. I will agree that the ending is a tear-jerker I came close to crying too. Check it out!
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A Powerful Film!
Pat-5425 January 1999
I was not prepared for the powerful film that this was. It really had me riveted to my seat! Linus Roache is not only a great actor, but a very handsome one as well. He brought compassion to his role and my heart ached for him. The ending was extremely touching and I was in tears. I recommend everyone to see this film and I do not agree with some Catholics who felt the film bashed their religion.
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Inspired, multi-layered film albeit offers no practical solutions
whitedog-329 November 1998
Priest is filled with more issues than its title may suggest. Aiming not so much to question the values of the church, it is a humorous and uncompromised journey, examining the title character's ideals and his approach to realistically facing the problem of conflicting standards, modern versus tradition.

The talented British cast are more than merely believable in their roles, to my surprise even after seeing them in different memorable contexts, for example, "Wings of the Dove" and "The Full Monty".

While the film excels in story-telling and to convey emotional issues, it does not necessarily offer a satisfactory solution to the questions it raised. Nevertheless, it didn't take the easy way out: and in the end, viewers are offered a personal and thought provoking account of one man's struggle attempting to balance his own faith against what he knows to be the truth.
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Keep The Faith
NJMoon11 September 1999
PRIEST is a powerful film. If nothing else, this ambitious (at times overly ambitious) feature keeps us painfully aware that, like we laity in the pews, no one lives in a vacuum. Love, sex, controversy, pain, anger, injustice and all the natural and unnatural twists and turns of life affect the clergy in ways that we who have not taken the vows cannot possibly understand.

PRIEST revolves around the troubled life journey of Father Greg, whose major struggle is one of sexual orientation. In a break-out performance, the multi-dimensional Linus Roache is thoroughly human as he faces personal and parish turmoil. Robert Carlyle (THE FULL MONTY) is wonderfully touching and sensitive as the object of his affection. Roache is ably supported by Tom Wilkinson (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE) as Father Matthew, who has reconciled his long-standing relationship with their housekeeper (Cathy Tyson).

When Greg's proclivity is revealed in the tabloids, he is promptly shipped off by a brusque Bishop to a country retreat ruled by a humorless housekeeper with a neck brace (the collar imagery is obvious) and a miserable Latin-spouting cleric in retirement. It is here that Fathers Greg and Matthew lay out the simple arguments of pro and con that support the premise of this thought-provoking and intelligent film.

Aside from a hokey scene where Greg sheds his Roman collar, opening his "closet" to reveal a hidden black leather jacket (oddly reminiscent of Barbara Gordon's Batgirl costume behind a revolving bookcase), PRIEST doesn't make a false step, even in it's sensual and delicately constructed sex scenes.

At times, PRIEST almost threatens to try to cover too much territory - a close-up of a girl alter-server is blessedly as far as female director Antonia Bird goes with the quandary of the role of women in clerical life. But controversy aside, this film is a wonderful affirmation of one undeniable fact - Priests are only human.
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SheBear15 September 2004
Priest is a powerful and well-acted film. It exposes the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church (not hard to do) but it is also about the larger issues of faith, compassion and forgiveness. The film is NOT ABOUT being a gay priest.

It speaks to any thinking person who has ever questioned their faith only to find that there are no answers and that faith is all there is.

Father Greg (Linus Roche) is gay and conflicted. On one hand he is certain that God wants him to be a priest. On the other hand, he is not certain that God exists. All he has is faith and faith abandons him in the face of evil.

The conversations between Father Greg and Father Matthew (Tom Wilkinson) are compelling. Did Jesus have it easier than everyone else because he knew what his purpose was? Do men's laws need to be followed as strictly as God's laws? Can the rules be changed just because they don't suit us?

The only wrong note struck in the film is when Father Greg removes his collar, gets on his bike and heads to a gay bar. With quick ease he catches the eye of a stranger and they are soon in bed without so much as a hello. A little too Brian- from- Queer- as- Folk if you ask me but, whatever.

You've got to grin at the sacrilegious irony of a disgruntled priest removing a large crucifix from a church, walking through the streets with it over his shoulder and smashing it into the rectory.

The battle of bible quotes between Father Greg and a devout parishioner perfectly illustrates the futility of proving your point through bible verse.

The ending is powerful and perfect. Get your tissue box out because if you don't bawl like a baby there is a black hole where your heart should be.

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Two great performances make this a worthy experience for all
graham clarke17 December 2006
For Catholics "Priest" must certainly be a wrenching experience. Though it must be stated that the picture painted is hardly a balanced one. The clergy as a whole are portrayed as a vicious bunch. Still the discussion that this film will provoke is certainly an important one.

Not being Catholic myself, the religious aspects were interesting though did not resonate strongly on an emotional level. Still, there's much worthy in this film for those far removed from organised religion or the Catholic Church. The story of an individual torn apart by conflicting beliefs and forces is indeed fascinating and "Priest" deals with this in a powerful and convincing fashion.

The success of the movie lies largely in the truly stunning performance of Linus Roache. Slightly resembling Montgomery Clift in "I Confess", Roache possesses a rare ability to totally inhabit his character and his acting is simply faultless. Tom Wilkinson too is in top form. For their performances alone, "Priest" is most definitely a "must see".
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one of the best unknown films ever made
millriver26 April 2010
I have just seen this movie a second time and am more convinced than ever that it is one of the finest films of its type. It is probably neglected because it was initially overshadowed by other films during its time. Yet I predict that one day it will be "rediscovered" and get its due. Under-rated, in my opinion, this film should be seen be everyone. The acting is so good that their work seems just an extension of their real-life personae. The script is never clichéd, which can easily happen in films of this type. And the direction is terse and powerful. I cannot find fault with this unknown masterpiece and hope especially Linus Roache will get the recognition he deserves for one of the most moving performances ever filmed.
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Flawed but fascinating drama (spoilers)
jbuck_91931 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
To read the plot summary, one would think that this is a poorly written script with two different plots. In fact, the whole thing makes perfect sense. But one must be a bit of an insider as I am to find oneself riveted by this complex and troubling story.

The big flaw in the plot is that there is no seal on the confessional when one confesses oneself the victim rather than the criminal. I would have to guess that the same is true in England as in the US and that a priest who heard a child confess to being incestuously abused by her father would march out on the instant and report it to social services.

To really appreciate this movie, one has to have been in the position (antique for me now but the memories are there) of loving a belief system and an institution and all the smells and bells and at the same time finding it cynically unwelcoming and compromised.
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