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Priest
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Priest More at IMDbPro »

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29 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Definitely one of the most controversial films in cinema history

Author: Dana Wang from Taipei, Taiwan
27 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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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Strong, complex, well-acted religious drama

9/10
Author: dromasca from Herzlya, Israel
8 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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27 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Stirring, controversial, well-acted religious pot-boiler - still, a mixed blessing.

7/10
Author: gbrumburgh (gbrumburgh@aol.com) from Los Angeles, California
11 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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20 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Powerful and Intense

10/10
Author: John (irishcoffee630@aol.com) from Chicago, Il
2 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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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Journey of Growth and the Heart of Forgiveness

9/10
Author: gpadillo from Portland, Maine
23 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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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Moving and powerful

10/10
Author: preppy-3 from United States
13 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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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Should be embraced by the church.

9/10
Author: Bill Jordan from Pennsylvania
31 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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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Very intelligent and beautiful piece of film making

9/10
Author: Bogey Man from Finland
20 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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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Judge not lest ye be judged..

Author: dbdumonteil
20 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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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Incredibly moving

Author: uluru-1 from Wisconsin
7 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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