The film attempts to recreate the life of Vicente Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit priest-cum-philanthropist, who defied prejudice, the powerful and even his own ecclesiastical superiors to improve the lot of a community of 'untouchables' eking out a miserable existence in the Indian region of Anantapur, in the second part of the twentieth century. But the film fails to do justice to his life. The character of Ferrer, played by Imanol Arias, is as thin as wallpaper. Which means we don't care very much what happens to him. When he resigns from the Jesuits—and without too much apparent soul searching—or when he proposes marriage or gets thrown in prison we barely raise an eyebrow. When later on in the film he comes across an old and much loved friend, the scene—clearly intended to be poignant—evokes no emotion whatsoever, because the friendship has not been previously developed. Another thing that grates, apart from the banal dialog, is that Ferrer, until his famous spiritual crisis kicks in, is a Jesuit. Yet we never see him pray, celebrate mass or even, except at the very beginning of the film, wear a priest's garb. In fact, he never mentions God or Christ anywhere in the film. Surely someone trained as a Jesuit,assuming he's not a charlatan, would turn to God in life's darkest moments? Shouldn't there be at least a hint of that, in the film, to help us understand him better? But no, in the film Ferrer just goes around without any apparent spiritual or self-reflection at all. There are other flaws. Arias is wooden throughout. And when he occasionally speaks English—with an excruciatingly bad accent, by the way—it's as though he's reading a bus timetable pinned to a wall in front of him. The Indian actors battle gamely to bring life to the film, but since no dramatic tension is ever generated and the characters remain as little more than cyphers, the result is dull and flat. The film is also painfully clichéd. Ferrer's Jesuit superiors are pantomime villains, seemingly resentful of his proud independence and superior humanity, while the angry mob is cowed by a mere withering look from the great white man. All in all, the resources would have been more profitably spent on a documentary.
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