But since this film deals with a young priest who decides to have sex with an underage catechist who's "more beautiful than the Virgin Mary" under her image, then, that's art, that's the truth, and that's what should be discussed as "the reason" for which to see this movie. After watching this movie, one finally asks "why did these psychos chose to become priests, anyway?". Amazingly, a film which deal with priesthood doesn't analyze at all on where it's supposed to be founded: a strong spiritual life, the commitment to be faithful to a calling from God, the purpose to live human virtues like humility and willingness, and enough trust to forgive himself, to learn from his mistakes and restart. But no! These guys are so totally mixed up that one starts questionning what in the hell did they learn as seminarists.
But the worst thing about it is its narrowness: there's no single sane religious character: they're either fanatics, superstitious or depraved, but none seem to explain the reality of faith. What's the other side of the story, where are the Mother Teresa's who devote thier lives to serve the poor freely?, where the Jerzy Popieluzko's that give their life to free their country from totalitarianism? where the Oscar Romero's who shed their blood for denouncing death squads? where the ordinary married couple looking for coherence in their daily lives by raising their kids as good human beings in a culture where the message is "you're smarter than your parents, so obey your instincts and be cool"?
It's perfectly understandable that a juicy story might come from the tragedy of self-degradation. But I wonder if the writer of a story about a struggling priest who finds the meaning of his life by being loyal to the implications of the vocation would find the backing this film had. I think it would be discarded for being naive and sectarian, and finally uncommercial ("Where's the sex scene a la Thorn Birds?" the potential producer would yell). George Bernanos and Graham Greene would have no place, films like "A man for all seasons" and "The mission" would've not been made, and Bing Crosby and Jennifer Jones would have won no oscars.
If you look for a relly good film on this issue, try Buñuel's "Nazarin", Zinnemann's "The nun's story", Powell's "Black Narcissus" or Pialat's "Sous le soleil de Satan". And they did it with no sex or cat-eating-holy communion-previously spit by false parishioner at all!
The truth is that this "lifetime" movie goes beyond absurdity. The characters are such cartoons with the goodies being the ones who say "follow your feelings" and the villains those who dare to say what's right and what's not. Yet perhaps the most insulting thing this film has is its narrow approach to the subject. These parents really deserve to go through this hell because of their ignorance and their incontrollable eagerness to be approved (and loved) by their daughter, which is precisely what this character penalizes. Do they try to study and learn more about homosexuality, how it is developed or it finally becomes a deliberate choice and not naively a genetic definition? NO!, They just react like some bigots who are magically changed by their obsession with their girl's acceptance, And believe me, this teen-age is years-light more mature than her folks, more conscious, tolerant and balanced, She even lectures her father that a lesbian and a tomboy girl are not the same and sends her mother to some sort of AA meeting for parents who are sick because they can't rejoice at the fact that their breed are queer. The point is not merely to portray homosexuals as victims (which of course they do) but as the real saviors of the American family. This film becomes so manipulative and so predictable that its failure is that it precisely lacks what it preaches: how to deal as individuals and as a family on the painful issue of self-discovery that teen-age is about. But when you overrate teen-age, simplistic and frivolous focus is what you get.
The point is that such perception has nothing to do with what being Catholic really means and what the Catholic Church is in fact. Their conrnerstones are Faith, Hope and Charity, and it's precisely because all faithful are united through Christ where its meaning relies on. A film that argues that the Church might enforce the abolishness of Mass based on obedience is absurd precisely because such obedience is based in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, such argument is exactly the one some protestant churches and sects sustain: that you alone can be the judge of your relation with God regardless of the means He established to grant His grace.
Any writing on the future of the church should recall perhaps how early christianity was like: people who gathered and grew in their faith regardless of its mainstream social acceptance, and who knew that they should not trade its teachings for social popularity.
What we have in Terence Davies's precious and exquisite vision, is a plain dumb and vain socialité who never actually makes a commitment or is willing to work hard for what's best for her. Some examples:
1) Wants a rich husband but deliberately misses all her chances to please a suitable candidate. 2) Would like to marry the man she loves but never really becomes serious about it, she'd rather keep the flirtation game but doesn't even play it well. 3) Is aware of a "friend's" betraying practices but never realizes she could be framed. 4) Needs money but never really develops useful skills or work for someone willing to help her. 5) Likes to gamble and to smoke but is to afraid to become a rebel. 6) Would love to inherit the money from her aunt but seldom pleases her.
DOES SHE EXPECT THAT ALL FAVORS COME FROM HEAVEN JUST BECAUSE SHE EXISTS?
I know we all could be somewhat fools and fall into subtle traps as the ones presented in the film, but watching her so stupidly fall into them is despairing. The best moral we can get from this film would not be "beware of believing social appearences" but rather "if your a fool, at least be aware of it".