Adam is a Catholic priest who discovered his calling as a servant of God at the relatively late age of 21. He now lives in a village in rural Poland where he works with teenagers with ... See full summary »
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Adam is a Catholic priest who discovered his calling as a servant of God at the relatively late age of 21. He now lives in a village in rural Poland where he works with teenagers with behavioral problems who fight and yell abuse. He declines the advances of a young brunette named Ewa; saying he is already spoken for. However; celibacy is not the only reason for his rejection. Adam knows that he desires men and that his embrace of the priesthood has been a flight from his own sexuality. When he meets Dynia; the strange and taciturn son of a simple rural family; Adam's self-imposed abstinence becomes a heavy burden. Written by
Dilemma's around child abuse in church and celibacy rules viewed from several different angles
I saw this film as part of the official Competition section of the Berlinale 2013. The theme at hand is very relevant in the context of child abuse as came to light in recent years, but there is more to it than that in this film. While the "children" in this film are nearly old enough to count as consensual adults, there is always the relationship between teacher and pupil to block any sort of romantic involvement. And there is the issue of celibacy for Roman Catholic priests. And if that is not enough, any intimacy between men and boys (whatever their age) is frowned upon by not only the church but also not accepted by the average man/woman in the street. The scenario contains elements of all these issues, mixed together in a believable story line.
As a bonus we see also the dilemmas that the church has to face when becoming aware that things are deviating from the official path. Our main character, priest Adam, has a proved track record of having a positive influence at all locations where he worked before. Nevertheless, there was always something going on, allegedly or not, that the church could not approve. And even when proving untrue rumors after all, it could have repercussions on their charitable work by the sheer suggestion alone. A transfer to a different place with the proverbial clean slate is then the next best thing the clerical hierarchy can do in their context, since dismissing him would be a loss for the social work that the church wants to continue at any price.
All of the above issues are intermixed in this film. That is done in such a way that one has difficulties to choose for either side, even for or against the church who is often maneuvered in a difficult position. And there is always some form of collateral damage due to suddenly broken relationships, deserving our pity as well. The perfect casting and superb acting carry this film and make into a believable piece of work. Having lived devoid of religious beliefs for the greater part of my life, I cannot follow in the footsteps of most of the characters in this film. And we should not forget this this happens in Poland, but even being from The Netherlands where I live, we know that their actions and beliefs are not extreme or otherwise unbelievable.
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