A young Roman Catholic priest, Father Amaro (Gael García Bernal) is assigned to a small Mexican town where he quickly finds himself tempted by pious teenager, Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón).
This film was off my “Films to Watch” list, and it was quite difficult to find so had to purchase it off Amazon Video. To be honest, the premise sounded similar to Thorn Birds, an Australian book / television drama from the 1980s.
From memory I don’t think I’ve ever really explored Spanish / Latin American cinema in angry great depth and if I recall correctly I found out about this film because of a film list published online.
Like most Spanish films, its pacing was quite slow. It took its sweet time to set up the characters and their personal motivations which was good, although the relationship between Amaro and Amelia was more of obsession on her side and carnal need on his side. Similarly, Amelia, while also being very pious, was also incredibly childish because she rejects her devoted boyfriend, Ruben (Andrés Montiel) but runs back to him when she needs to cover up her mistakes by the respectability of marriage.
In the same way, as I said before the Amelia-Amaro relationship was represented in a way that we as an audience were probably supposed to feel massive emotion and sympathy for them when things went pear-shaped. However, I didn’t feel any great regret towards the characters which was certainly a pity.
The celibacy of priests is of course always a hotly debated topic especially with all the ensuing media attention it brings. There are also other themes running through the narrative of this film, although lust, godliness and hypocrisy are the main themes which jump out the most. In the same way, none of the characters are 100% good, which shows how flawed human nature is at its core.
I don’t quite think this film is one I would revisit. I didn’t hate it, but it was just quite bland in the grand scheme of things. Of course the performances were good. They felt quite naturalistic and the cinematography was good. Apparently a Spanish film company is trying to spin off this film. I don’t know quite how they could do that, but whatever they do would be interesting to see.
MY RATING: ***.5 / *****