By the Grace of God (Grâce à Dieu)
Cert: TBC Year: 2018 Length: 137 mins Language: French
Cinema Handout (PDF 104KB)
Score: 83.8% Attendance: 89
The film that takes off where 'Spotlight' finished. Not content with investigating historic child abuse scandals in the Catholic church, François Ozon released this drama around the trial of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin before the actual trial was finished. "Not a documentary exposé, as the filmmaker once intended, because that would do little more than reiterate the facts these brave men have already worked so hard to disseminate through the media. And certainly not a psychosexual thriller in the vein of Ozon's previous work...No, this would have to be a sturdy portrait of everyday heroism - a sober but compelling drama that rewarded its real subjects by casting famous movie stars to play them on the big screen" - David Ehrlich, Indiewire.
The film follows the story of three semi-fictional victims of sexual abuse by the same priest, Bernard Preynat, after one of them, Alexandre, discovers he is still a serving priest many years later. He takes his case to Cardinal Barbarin who professes concern but does little about it. Once other victims hear about the case and come forward, Barbarin's position becomes harder to sustain. "All three men's anguish, however, is put into relief by that of Emmanuel, one of Preynat's most serially exploited charges. Unlike his peers, the near-derelict Emmanuel has never managed to push past trauma to get his adult life on track; as the men form an activist union to 'lift the burden of silence' on their abuse, he finally finds a place to belong" - Guy Lodge, Variety.
A very different film from Ozon's usual, then - viz 'Frantz', seen here in 2017 - but "Ozon spins a palpable web of strength between his characters, so that even the most fragile among them can find the superhuman resolve they need to relive their trauma" - Ehrlich again.
If there were ever any doubt that Ozon, that impish provocateur, was the man to handle it, the career-topping urgency of his filmmaking sweeps it away inch by inch, sequence by methodical sequence.
Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph
[A] film that is engrossing from the start, while building to something greater and more emotionally encompassing. Glenn Kenny, New York Times
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