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Andrew

By the Grace of God

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I never would've expected a serious film from Francois Ozon about pedophilia in the French Catholic Church, but whaddya know?  And Ozon bends over backwards to make it clear he's not attacking the Church, but is attempting to thoughtfully criticize its (ongoing) misconduct.  I go into full detail into my longer-than-usual review, which I won't repeat here.  But it's not a stretch to state this is France's Spotlight, arguably more relevant in showing that the same criminal violence and neglect are continuing under Pope Francis' watch.  I'll end by strongly urging Ecumenical Jury voters to make every effort to see this before year's end.  

My review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/11/by-the-grace-of-god-under-pope-francis-unpunished-pedophilia-is-still-business-as-usual/


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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Don't we see a poster for Spotlight on the wall in one scene? Or am I thinking of another film I saw recently?

I hate to say that this was one of those films that began to burn me out on the festival-going experience this year. It's *very* talky, which means my eyes were constantly bouncing around the bottom of the screen, reading the subtitles, instead of taking in the visuals. And the film is not only long-ish (about 2.5 hours, right?), but it's structurally challenging too, inasmuch as there's one main character for the first hour or so and then suddenly the movie revolves around a completely different character and then another character. (I found myself thinking about some of the Frederick Forsyth novels I used to read as a kid, of all things.)

Anyway, yes, I do agree that the film is thoughtful and that it goes out of its way to include the perspectives of those who remain *within* the Catholic church even as they criticize its handling of this issue. And maybe it would play for me better outside of a festival binge-watch.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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On 11/10/2019 at 1:43 PM, Andrew said:

I never would've expected a serious film from Francois Ozon about pedophilia in the French Catholic Church, but whaddya know?  And Ozon bends over backwards to make it clear he's not attacking the Church, but is attempting to thoughtfully criticize its (ongoing) misconduct.  I go into full detail into my longer-than-usual review, which I won't repeat here.  But it's not a stretch to state this is France's Spotlight, arguably more relevant in showing that the same criminal violence and neglect are continuing under Pope Francis' watch.  I'll end by strongly urging Ecumenical Jury voters to make every effort to see this before year's end.  

 

A strong second from me. Haven't read Andrew's review yet, but I found the film more interested in the victims and how the experience affects them personally, politically, and spiritually than it is in folding Francis into the indictment. (Wasn't there a scene in which they say they ask Vatican to extend the statute of limitations and where they say the Vatican says that the actions of the diocese are not (yet) enough?
 

 

On 11/18/2019 at 12:35 AM, Peter T Chattaway said:

I hate to say that this was one of those films that began to burn me out on the festival-going experience this year. It's *very* talky, which means my eyes were constantly bouncing around the bottom of the screen, reading the subtitles, instead of taking in the visuals. And the film is not only long-ish (about 2.5 hours, right?), but it's structurally challenging too, inasmuch as there's one main character for the first hour or so and then suddenly the movie revolves around a completely different character and then another character. (I found myself thinking about some of the Frederick Forsyth novels I used to read as a kid, of all things.)

Anyway, yes, I do agree that the film is thoughtful and that it goes out of its way to include the perspectives of those who remain *within* the Catholic church even as they criticize its handling of this issue. And maybe it would play for me better outside of a festival binge-watch.

I did not see it in a festival setting (and am kind of glad for that now), but most of the things Peter mentions are things I liked about the film. Interesting that you said Frederick Forsyth...the first analogy that came to me was Randy Shilts (And the Band Played On). 

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1 hour ago, kenmorefield said:

A strong second from me. Haven't read Andrew's review yet, but I found the film more interested in the victims and how the experience affects them personally, politically, and spiritually than it is in folding Francis into the indictment. (Wasn't there a scene in which they say they ask Vatican to extend the statute of limitations and where they say the Vatican says that the actions of the diocese are not (yet) enough?

I don't have an answer to your parenthetical query, and I agree with your statement on the emphasis of the film.  My comment about Pope Francis stems more from the continued stream of stories about clerical pedophilia and the RCC leadership's anemic response and cover-ups.  Cardinal Barbarin's misconduct is a prime example, as is Francis' choice not to accept his resignation.  


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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I revisited the film today with a sense of trepidation. Any time there is a late-in-the-year arrival that skyrockets up my list, I wonder if the emotion of the moment makes me oversell it, if the film will hold up to a second viewing. 

It did. 

This is a viscerally exhausting film and yet so compassionate. I realized again that one thing I love about it is that it is more interested in the faith and spirituality and humanity of the victims than in the politics of the crime or the cover up. There are a dozen little moments that are so powerful...about memory....secrecy....grace...tenderness. I thought not for the first time of the line from Starman -- "Do you know what I love about your people? You are at your best when things are worst." My believe in that statement has been taxed in recent years, so it was important for me to be reminded just now that little miracles of seeing, hearing, believing, and compassion are what help us to transcend. 

I realize there is a through theme in a lot of the films in recent years that have resonated with me most deeply -- how humans are the physical embodiment, for good or ill, of how other humans come to conceptualize or understand God. 

It struck me too how much I love the structure. One misfortune is a tragedy, 100,000 a statistic. The film stretches to give us a sense of scope but also remains focused on three principals to give us enough variation. It's a delicate balancing act. Because I've been hearing so much these days about "transmission," I was reminded of what strange and powerful things chains are -- for good or ill. Being at the end of a chain, beholden to those who came before is a powerful thing. Being at the beginning of a chain, having faith that your work matters even if the immediate effects are disappointing, is a powerful thing. Being in the middle of a chain, maybe not getting the attention of the beginning or the end but knowing that without your link the chain cannot work, is a powerful thing. 

Alos, I'm not a music guy, but there is a three and half minute special feature on the dvd that includes them recording the final piece, which I stupidly didn't even understand was a boy's choral piece. The juxtaposition of transcendent beauty and horrific defilement has never been harder for me to bear. I'm in love with that piece.

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