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TIFF 2019 Review: Corpus Christi

Unable to become a priest because of his criminal record, Daniel poses as one in a small Polish town.

The violent crime that resulted in Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) being sent to a youth detention facility and is the reason why a fellow inmate wants to kill him, prevents him from fulfilling his ambition to become a priest.  Upon being released and sent to a sawmill to work, the 20-year old visits a church leading to a mischievous lie which spirals out of control and has him adopting the role of a parish priest.  The con is not an easy one to pull off as there is the aftermath of a local tragedy that has to be dealt with as well as the threat of being caught and sent back to the youth detention facility where Daniel’s imprisoned adversary awaits him.

Filmmaker Jan Komasa and screenwriter Mateusz Pacewicz have crafted a thoughtful and realistic story which embraces the fact that every action has a consequence.   By having two key and interconnected storylines the narrative is propelled forward.  The fatal car accident that divides the community gives the protagonist a mission while the threat of being discovered provides an undercurrent of unease and suspense.  Moments like hearing the distant church bells and the exposition delivered in the confessional are organic plot devices because they fit within the context of story.

A sombre feel to the proceedings is contributed by the cool colour pallet.  Bartosz Bielenia inhabits his role as Daniel and quietly goes about his business of endearing himself to audience members.  The camera serves as an observer and avoids any stylish flourishes.  Not completely sure of what to make of the ending but needless to say it falls more on the side of realism rather than fantasy.

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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