Confessions of Cloth and Community

CONFESSIONS OF CLOTH AND COMMUNITY

hen a handsome voting priest, stiff with Catholic dogma, walks into an English parish with a (>(.) percent unemployment rate and announces that society is not to blame for urban ills, you know lie’ll be brought to his knees bv the combined forces of the wellintended liberal movie.

Before Father Greg (Linus Roache) can say “original sin,”the people of Liverpool test his high mind with all manner of human error. His older colleague is a libertarian activist who is shacked up with the housekeeper. A troubled schoolgirl confides that her father is sexually abusing her, forcing Father Greg to decide whether to violate the sanctity oi confession and speak out. His own covert homosexualitv precipitates a crisis that compels him to re-examine the relationship between doctrine and life. It s easv to see whv Tries! received standing

ovations at film festivals in Park ( iitv and Toronto (where it won the audience prize). Director .Antonia Bird is the most skilled of rabble-rousers, rushing us from comedy to melodrama and back again in a roller-coaster diatribe against hypocrisy. 1 enjoyed the ride, but came away feeling manipulated—for Priest is as intellectually slippery as it is emotionally thrilling. The movie stacks the deck with loathsome Church highups and fudges difficult questions about what it might mean for religious leadens to jettison their own rules as needed. At Park Cuts the director proclaimed the film “a celebration of Catholicism but a questioning of its rules and hierarchies. ‘ Bv the end of Bird’s demolition derby there’s precious little Catholicism left standing.

F/la Taylor is a film critirf&r Mirabel la.