It’s pay­back time at The Club

The Church of England - - FEATURE -

The Club (El Club)

I would cer­tainly like to be a fly on the wall if the Pope ever set­tles down one night to watch this jar­ring and in­tense film. Di­rected by Pablo Lar­rain, and set in Chile, on a drab, re­mote sea­side town be­comes the set­ting for a group of priests. All were ban­ished there, no longer fit to serve their parishes due to the sins they have com­mit­ted in their past. Dur­ing the open­ing cred­its, long be­fore any di­a­logue oc­curs we are lulled into sooth­ing beach sun­set scenes with one of the men play­ing with his dog, scored to the stringed sound­track of Es­to­nian com­poser Arvo Part.

The four priests re­side in a small house over­seen by steely nun-turned-care­taker, Her­mana (An­to­nia Zegers) who treats each of the men as her brothers, even up to the point of chang­ing one of their nap­pies. Lar­rain did plenty of re­search, in­ter­view­ing real clergy from the Catholic Church who con­firmed houses such as this do in fact ex­ist.

What is even more shock­ing is that it is com­pletely funded by the Church.

The men are all mostly mid­dle aged, and to take some time out from re­mem­ber­ing why they are there, seek com­fort and en­joy­ment in grey­hound rac­ing, along with the good for­tune they re­ceive from it. What would God say, not much re­pen­tance hap­pen­ing here you may ask?

All of their filthy past is mired with their con­vic­tions and de­sire linked to pae­dophilia, po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion and even sell­ing ba­bies. The heat soon gets turned up with the ar­rival of new priest, Fa­ther Laz­cano. Un­for­tu­nately for him his stint at the house comes to an abrupt and vi­o­lent end when he is tracked down by ex-al­tar boy called San­dokan he once knew.

San­dokan makes a spec­ta­cle out­side the house, yelling graphic ex­ple­tives of what he had to en­dure, what hap­pens next forces the Church to send in Fa­ther Gar­cia (Mar­cel Alonso) to in­ves­ti­gate the house with hopes of shut­ting it down. He makes each of the men face their con­vic­tions and man­ages to get them to con­fess even more. By the end of it you are un­sure who to dis­like the most.

San­dokan is most likely the lead­ing man who gets plenty of time to re­ally il­lus­trate the psy­cho­log­i­cal dam­age and suf­fer­ing he still bears. It’s not all doom and gloom how­ever be­cause through­out the film there are dark comic mo­ments and each char­ac­ter is thor­oughly en­gag­ing. El Club has al­ready been sub­mit­ted for an Os­car and one would sus­pect it stands a good chance of go­ing all the way to grab the gold.

Out March 25 in cin­e­mas.

Peter May

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