MOVIE REVIEW: El Club

A group of excommunicated priests are living by the sea and training a greyhound to race.  When another disgraced priest arrives in their house he brings his troubles with him.  After a suicide a crisis counselor comes to the house to interview the Ex-Priests.  This visit will change the lives of everyone.

The subject matter that lies within this film will be hard for a lot of people to watch.  Even if it was done brilliantly it would be tough to watch.  Mind you if it was done brilliantly or even done slightly better than it is done it would have been something compelling and affecting.  What you have here is characters that are altogether unlikable, not a single character you cheer for, and a story that is told in a way that I’m sure is thought to be more artistic.  What you are left with is feeling unmoved by all the humans in the film.

The-Club-1

All the priests in this film, or ex priests have done something that is criminal and have been left aside by the church.  In their eyes they see little to no crime in their actions and are unrepentant.  We learn that there are many houses like this all over.  A new Priest is joining the house but one the victims that he abused at his old parish has turned up too, refusing to be silenced, it confronts that priest with a truth that he cannot live with.  This Priest kills himself.

Right, I’m finding this review hard to write.  The reason is that a drama with a tough subject matter can still be entertaining when you care for someone in the film.  When there are no characters that you care about then you don’t just lose interest you lose the will to see the film through.  The actors all play their parts well, and you can see, you can almost grasp what the film makers are trying to do, but there is no goodness there to hold onto.  The film also shows abuse of animals that I’m not sure was faked, I’m not talking about a massive amount of abuse but enough to make me dislike this film.

The dire situations and the bleak outlook of the film just crushed my good mood going into the screening, which again can be good thing once you have something good to take hope in, or you are entertained.  The story that these men and their Nun caretaker are racing a dog and trying to find a way to spend their lives outside of the church, and then the story of the man confronting the priest who abused him, along with the Jesuit Priest coming in to talk to the men to find out if this house should be shut down was never going to be a barnstormer of a film.  There were certain ways that it could have been more interesting but the realistic approach that the film makers chose made for an uncomfortable and unenjoyable watch.

Stories where you have to confront the horrors of the Church are never going to be comfortable to watch, knowing what these so-called Men of God did to the most innocent of people around the world.  However if you are going to create a film then you have to make sure that you give the audience something to hold on to that they will leave the cinema and feel like telling others that they should go see this film.  In all seriousness if this review leads you to go see this film on my account then I haven’t done my job properly.

Director: Pablo Larraín
Writers: Guillermo Calderón, Pablo Larraín, Daniel Villalobos
Stars: Alfredo Castro, Roberto Farías, Antonia Zegers, Marcelo Alonso

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