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|Index||109 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For many priests, celibacy is a true vocation which liberates them...
For others, it is a lifelong struggle... If celibacy was made
voluntary, not only would many priests be happier, but the Church would
be richer... Above all, it might decide the only way to restore the
numbers of the priesthood, and that seems to me not a bad idea...
In "The Crime of Father Amaro," the top film in Mexican box-office history, Carlos Carrera shows that even a man with morals and scruples betrays the nature of his profession, mostly when he brazenly criticizes the priesthood, and questions the Catholic Church's representatives on a variety of charges like illicit love affair, corruption, drug dealing, and hypocrisy...
The story takes a liberal priest, Father Amaro(Gael Garcia Bernal), protégé of a repulsive obese bishop (Ernesto Gomez Cruz), to the remote dusty village of Los Reyes to assist the older priest of the parish Father Benito (Sancho Gracia) in his daily work...
Amaro quickly realizes that virtually every fellow priest is involved in something immoral, and that his aging superior is receiving financial help from the region's drug lord for the construction of a new church-run hospital, and is secretly spending his cold nights with the proprietress of a local restaurant Augustina (Anjelica Aragón). He also discovers that Father Natalio (Damian Alcazar) is suspected of aiding the revolutionary factions in opposing the drug lords and mobsters...
Amaro's own weaknesses is put to the test when he finds himself led into temptation by Augustina 's extremely sensual teenager Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón) a relationship that eventually goes way outside the bounds of his priestly oath... and, without any sign of inner turmoil, he embarks on a passionate affair with the devout catechism teacher...
Amaliafor whom loving a young priest serves as an extension of her deep pietydecides that the good-looking priest is the one for her and rejects her disappointed boyfriend, the aggressive reporter Ruben (Andres Montiel) who wrote an article alleging that the hospital is a front for laundering drug money...
The polemical film focuses on blasphemous scenes as on a vicious priest who stops at nothing, even by continuing the lies and hypocrisy to protect his career...
"O Crime do Padre Amaro" (the original title of the Portuguese novel)
is one of my all-time favorite books, written by Eça de Queirós in
1875, one of the stalwarts of realism in literature, along with
Flaubert or Zola. If you read this novel today, besides being marveled
by its iconoclast wit, powerful story-telling, sharply drawn
multi-layered characters and magnificent style, you will no doubt be
startled by Eça's volcanic attacks on the Catholic clergy's corrupt
morals and behavior in late 1800s Portugal.
Well, this Mexican adaptation is a total waste of the novel's story and shocking power, beginning with the bad idea to transpose it to modern times -- how can anyone relate to the impact of Eça's novel when sex scandals in the Catholic Church have become daily news? Anyhow, this is no excuse for the film's soap-opera approach, lame adaptation, cardboard characters, unimaginative direction, bland acting (Bernal, Talacón, though they make a beautiful couple) or sheer overacting (most of the cast, excepting the good jobs by Damián Alcázar and Angélica Aragón).
A major disappointment from director Carrera, writer Leñeros, and actor García Bernal, who was very interesting in "Amores Perros" and "Y Tu Mamá También" (and since then progressively déjà vu), but is totally lost here, his expression telling us he didn't get the first idea about Amaro's cynicism, passion, ambition and growing immorality. Amaro is NOT about standing there wide-eyed and being pretty!
If you want to be thrilled and overwhelmed by a real masterpiece, forget about this movie and read the magnificent novel instead. The book - 10/10 the film - 1/10.
From a novel by the 19th century Portuguese well-known novelist Eça de Queirós, the Mexican director Carlos Carrera made this good movie in which to the main ingredients present at all times everywhere (lust, the temptations of the flesh haunting Catholic priests, religious hypocrisy, love and bourgeois prejudices) he added specific Mexican ones of our times such as the fight for independent journalism, drug traffic, complicity of authorities and the fight of the peasants for dignity, freedom and a better life. He was very successful in telling the same story contained in the Portuguese novel, transposing it from the atmosphere of a Portuguese provincial town in the second half of 19th century to rural Mexico of present times. The acting of all performers is sober and efficient with special prominence to Ana Claudia in the role of the sensual nymphet who seduces the young priest not with great difficulty it must be said.
This is, without a doubt, the most controversial mexican film ever. I don't
know if people from around the world will understand the impact it had here
in Mexico, but here are some hints: a) almost everybody in Mexico is
catholic, b) Mexican catholics have an enormous respect for
So, imagine the chaos when a film is about a priest, Father Amaro (García Bernal), who falls in love with a teenage girl (Talancón) and is under the supervision of the local priest, Father Benito (Gracia), who is involved with one of the most wanted drug dealers in the country. And it gets better.
Nevertheless, the film does not criticize the catholic religion; it criticizes people, wether they're in a robe or not (as always, there's a lot of jabs to mexican politics too). "El crimen del padre Amaro" is a movie about human flaws and passions. Passion for a woman, passion for justice, passion for success; even passion for a religion.
Another plus is the performance of each and everyone of the cast members. Everybody is in character and brings to life a great plot. You can't help but thinking "Oh my, now how are they going to get out of this one?".
This one is a must-see. Remember: have an open mind, it's just a (very good) movie.
I enjoyed this movie, not because it was gripping or exciting, but
because of what it had to say.
I'm not completely aware of everything to do with the Catholic Church, but the controversy in this movie is a necessary one.
I've never seen a Gael Garcia movie before and I thought this was good. The most powerful part of the movie is what it leaves you with - the message at the end; the themes of confession, of sin, of mistakes, of being human.
If you can't watch something that is quite slow and is not edge of the seat stuff, then forget it. Even the music isn't very memorable. But the movie stuck in my mind.
`El Crimen' was not a bad film, although it was hardly worthy of
While the acting was passable, the story did not move along in a
enough manner to thoroughly captivate its audience-- in simple terms, the
movie was somewhat slow.
What is interesting to notice is the reaction that the public-- especially the Catholic public-- has had to this film. As a Catholic, it saddens me to see the amazing amount of rage focused around the lust of the film's central character, Padre Amaro. The film, on a superficial level, was rebellion against stale relics of Catholic tradition-- such as requisite chastity for clergy and the deification of inanimate objects-- that may well spell the end of the faith if they are not shed. It is on these superficial levels that Padre Amaro is decried as a criminal of the faith by the viewing public, but lust is not this priest's true crime.
Central to the film's controversy is the corruption that propels the church. The truest crime of the film is the web of cover-ups and lies that the church creates in order to propagate its cause. The church is held deep in the pockets of the drug cartel and in order to maintain their stability, the majority of the church leadership, from the bishop down to the sacristans,
are quite comfortable with, at worst, lying and falsifying evidence or, at best, looking the other way. The crime of Padre Amaro is not so much that he acted upon his human impulses as that he accepts the corruption of the church by participating in its lies and creating lies of his own.
Unfortunately, this film's only exposé is not the corruption of the church, which has become more and more evident in recent times, but the faithful church body's willingness to pretend that none of this goes on. One of the most terrifyingly ironic cries of foul against this film, as evidenced in many of these reviews, is, `Priests would never act that way!' How can one, in today's climate, make such assertions? While this film should, in an ideal world, be objectionable, the current outcry by supposedly devout Catholics represents a denial of epidemic proportions.
If one would set aside one's group think for two hours while watching this film, one might gain a perspective of the church that our priests do not offer in their Sunday morning Masses. This film may not represent what we would like our church to be, but it does represent what our church is. If we continue to pretend that the current state of affairs of our faith is acceptable, then el crimen de Padre Amaro will also be our crime: complacence.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Crime of Father Amaro (El Crimen del padre Amaro)" is half-way
between "The Thorn Birds" and the current scandals sweeping the
Catholic Church in the U.S. It examines the slippery slope of morality
among priests in Mexico as each makes decisions based on perceptions of
personal ambition and community needs, including inflated notions of
where that intersects.
Into a rural nest of accomodationist parish priests, who have made deals with drug dealers, guerrillas and local politician (who rues that the "black politics" of the cassock-wearers is the worst), comes straight from the seminary young, hunky Gael García Bernal (of "Amores Perros" and "Y Tu Mama Tambien") with instructions from his very political bishop to read them the riot act. The young padre sees only the sins and not the community benefits, and gets attracted to the dark side, giving in to his selfish lust.
The sex is pretty plain vanilla heterosexual (the elders keep calling her a child, but she was of marriageable age with her boyfriend, so I guess they're using that as a synonym for virgin), compared to the current scandals. What makes it different from the usual soap operas is showing how the sensuality of the church's rituals heightens the sinners' attraction, as he wraps her in the robes of the Virgin and recites "The Song of Songs" for seduction, while she (a "wafer-eater" as her ex-boyfriend's father mocks her) is specifically in love with him as a priest. When he consults about abortion morality with the liberationist theologian to whom he has brought excommunication orders, he gets a blank look and a practical response: "That's not an issue in this parish. Is it in yours?"
But these serious issues are overwhelmed by the soap opera (the movie is based on an 1875 novel), and we mostly see "Amaro"s passions and desperate, self-serving actions, like praying for a miracle to save his career, not his character changes.
(originally written 12/16/2002)
Based on an 1875 Portuguese novel by Eca de Quieros, The Crime of Father
Amaro, the new film from director Carlos Carrera, has been updated to modern
Mexico. As it opens, Father Amaro (Gael García Bernal) comes to Las Reyes
for his first assignment. He starts out as an idealist, showing kindness to
a fellow bus passenger whose money is stolen during a holdup, but when he
arrives at the parish, he quickly caves in to the established order.
Father Benito (Sancho Gracia) is his superior, and his main project is the building of a hospital, orphanage, and rest home. It is soon learned that Benito is having an affair with a local café proprietor Sanjuanera (Angélica Aragón) and has taken money from the area's major drug lord to finance the hospital. Benito is also a vocal opponent of the "good" priest, Father Natalio (Damían Alcázar) whose support of the peasants and their guerilla revolution stirs resentment from the church hierarchy.
When a reporter for the local paper is given photographs of Father Benito at a baptism with the drug kingpin, he writes an article alleging that the hospital is a front for laundering drug money. The bishop urges Father Amaro to write a rebuttal (i.e., a cover-up) in the paper saying that the funds came only from the church. Amaro then has an affair with the reporter's ex-girlfriend, Sanjuanera's young daughter Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón), and in an awkward scene, the priest drapes her in a blue robe that has been designed for the local church's statue of the Virgin Mary. "You're more beautiful than the blessed virgin," he tells her. The result of this liaison is a scandal that rocks the church.
The Catholic Church has called for a boycott of The Crime of Father Amaro on religious grounds. Personally, I'm more concerned with its artistic transgressions. The film provides little insight into the conflicting pressures that priests face in today's world, and the characters are shallow and uninteresting. Given recent headlines about sexual abuse, this issue could have been the focus for an important film, but Carrera hits us over the head with his message so often that the film ends up as manipulative melodrama, light years away from the subtle ironic thrusts of a Buñuelian sword.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie is not about how evil or backward the Roman Catholic Church is, it is about the personal weakness of an ambitious young man who succumbs to lust, yet does not give up his dream of becoming the local bishop. AMARO IS NOT A VICTIM, of all sinful characters of the story, he is the MOST SINFUL. He betrayed everyone: he got his lover killed, his lover's boyfriend fired, the sexton with the disabled daughter thrown out of his home, he almost had the older priest dead, he even accused the previous boyfriend of having knocked up the girl. Amaro IS a despicable person and that is what the whole movie is about: how some men do not stand to their duty.
The release of the film THE CRIME OF PADRE AMARO caused about as much
of an uproar in Mexico in 2002 as the publication of the novel, written
by Jose Maria Eca de Queiroz, caused in 1875. With its dangerously
intertwining themes of spiritual ecstasy and sexual passion, it's not
hard to see why. At the heart of the story is a young priest who
wrestles in a major way with the tempting hungers of his body and the
grace-filled yearnings of his spirit. It does not help that, to pursue
his vocation, he is sent to a town sustained by a culture of
One thing actor Gael Garcia Bernal does not know how to do is give a bad performance, and in the movie's title role he captures brilliantly all the agonizing ambiguity that comes with being a young adult male intent on asserting his masculinity while also serving the spiritual needs of his community. Unfortunately, his happily deluded demeanor meets with an equally intense personality in the form of Amelia, a devout young devotee acted with mesmerizing perfection by the gorgeous Ana Claudia Talancon. Amelia idolizes the young priest as a true and noble holy man whose sexuality is made sacred by his presumably pure soul. He in turn dares to drape her in a cape reserved for representations of the Madonna and recites to her from Solomon's "Song of Songs" as they seduce each other. Controversial? Better believe it.
As in the film THE HEALER (please see companion review) "The Crime of Padre Amaro" depicts sexuality and spirituality as equally powerful forces of attraction capable of producing very different results, which will not be revealed here. The outcome in "The Crime of Padre Amaro" is shocking in more ways than one and well worth contemplating for a long time.
by Author-Poet Aberjhani, author of "Christmas When Music Almost Killed the World"
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