Film Review: The Club
I liked this movie because of its multi-layered approach to storytelling. Along with its engaging primary story there is a secondary broader narrative; and additionally you can view it with at least two filters (as a believer, or as a non-believer) simultaneously – and all of them are satisfying in a way that a simpler (or more direct) telling wouldn’t allow.
The Catholic Church places disgraced priests that are no longer capable of performing their services in a small house in a nondescript town, where they stay for years in what is either exile, or prison, or freedom from prosecution, all depending on your point of view. The long term implications of this on both the church and the priests slowly unfolds in a small-scale and thoughtful way.
I generally respond well to movies where corrupt power structures are revealed for what they are, whether it’s via lone-hero-with-machine-gun, plucky computer hacker(z), or dedicated team of experts, but this movie accomplishes that more quietly, and with a much bigger target. And it’s shown from the inside, a long time after the event, by concentrating on the perpetrators themselves. Theirs are the fascinating story of lies and deceptions, told a long time afterwards. It’s not as much about immediate actions as it is about delayed consequences.
The characters are so real that the fact they’re not likeable but instead relatable is a credit to the filmmaking by writer/director Pablo Larraín, and the actors including Alfredo Castro, Marcelo Alonso, Jaime Vadell, Alejandro Sieveking and Alejandro Goic, as well as lone actress Antonia Zegers. You’re not meant to care about these people, or the church, or even necessarily their victims – this movie is more about the dilemma, and the dilemma itself is what’s unsettling and yet engaging. The notion of what to with people who transgress is one thing, but also (and this is what I think the movie does uniquely well) THESE PEOPLE also have to deal with the problem of what to do with THEMSELVES. And you care, not because you like these people, but because you have to live in a society where people like this exist and need to be dealt with.
So… while it’s not a date movie, and it’s not a revenge movie, and it’s not a survival movie, and it’s not an action movie… it’s deeper than that while being neither daunting nor unrelatable. It’s the *other* movie you didn’t know you wanted to see about the Catholic Church, because it’s like a more sophisticated prison movie – but without the distractions and feel good expectations that often compromise that genre.
THE CLUB directed by Pablo Larrain is in UK cinemas 25 March 2016 #TheClubFilm
The Club 4/5
Last four movies watched in Cinema or on DVD: The Revenant (2015) 4/5; Any Questions For Ben (2012) 1/5; The Bay (2012) 2/5; The Ugly Truth (2009) 2/5.