Directed by Jan Komasa
Starring Bartosz Bielenia, Aleksandra Konieczna, Eliza Rycembel
Young criminal Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) has his troubles in his juvenile detention centre, where he’s apparently had a spiritual awakening, but his time is now up and he’s on the road, travelling to a small remote town to do work at a sawmill. But upon arrival, he dons a priest attire and assumes position as the town’s new priest. As he goes about his new responsibilities, he learns of a tragedy plaguing this town, and he aims to heal the resentment the townsfolk feel.
Corpus Christi’s problem areas are mostly at its beginning and end. It’s too lean with the details in Daniel’s life, showing little of his time in juvenile detention and his aspirations for priesthood, making much of the film unsatisfying. It’s like it’s playing catch-up, showing this characterisation of the past more in the present.
The middle bulk of the film, despite this unclearly conceived protagonist, is where the film gets to sink its teeth into the themes of tragedy, blaming, and forgiveness. Although there’s a predictable and useless romance getting in the way, we see through Daniel’s perspective in how he is summoned to take on this town’s tragedy and offer the right kind of healing to the grieving.
This tale of forgiveness does ultimately lead to an ending that is not only badly choreographed and filmed but ends the film on a baffling note. There’s almost a feeling of ambivalence at the film’s conclusion, a happy ending for one and a not-so-happy ending for another.
There’s no feeling of redemption that comes across as satisfying. A better tale of a young man finding redemption would be in Young Ahmed, or in the Dardenne brothers’ earlier film The Son. Both films are able to clearly outline their own troubled characters and the people who must deal with their pasts. Corpus Christi feels like it’s lacking an obviously much-needed religious element, with this great tale of morality not coming through and hitting as hard as it should.
Corpus Christi plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, January 18 to Sunday, January 24. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au