Always disturbing but also worrying and even intermittently amusing, this drama unfurls a religious parabola that is distinctly Polish but open to everyone. Bartosz Bielenia, an actor with blazing blue eyes and the ability to be so still, it's as if he can freeze the frame on his own, stars like Daniel, a young ne'er from Warsaw who is in juvenile detention for crimes only later revealed. He was first seen watching the gate as some teenagers in a metalwork class brutalize a boy while the guard is out, but sheer luck opens another door for him. Drawn to religion but not allowed to join a seminary due to his criminal record, he travels to a rural town once he has been paroled in a sawmill to take up work. A little gray lie allows him to take the identity of the young new priest, Tomasz, that the city expects, and soon Daniel will perform mass and hear confessions, while the old resident curate will drip out in rehabilitation for a while. Around this midpoint, the movie risks sounding like an episode of Father Ted as directed by Robert Bresson, as Daniel / Tomasz gets used to being looked after by bossy matron Lidia (Aleksandra Konieczna) in luxurious new digs and gets to know the city folk. The plot takes an interesting turn when Daniel learns that the family has been traumatized by a horrific road accident and discovers an uncommon pastoral ability when he tries to help restore the battered psyches of the bereaved-many of them barely younger than himself, including the pretty teenage daughter of Lidia, Eliza (Eliza Rycembel). All the above may lead you to expect some sort of soppy redemptive course, but that's not where this film ends up, landing on a much darker, reflective note instead. The blue-tone cinematography of Piotr Sobocinski enhances the rapturous atmosphere and enhances suspense in a smartly written, disturbing job.
Daniel experiences a spiritual transformation in a detention center. Although his criminal record prevents him from applying to the seminary, he has no intention of giving up his dream and decides to minister a small-town parish.
March 21, 2020