OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Corpus Christi

(Boże Ciało)

Official Selection from Poland for the Best International Film Oscar!

Corpus Christi, by Jan Komasa, is an engrossing exploration of faith, second chances and the possibility of atonement.

Poster for the Oscar-nominated Polish film Corpus Christi20-year-old Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia) is incarcerated in a brutal institution for young offenders. He has developed a deep religious faith and sports the beatific expressions of a true believer. He is impressed by Father Tomasz (Łucasz Simlat), who informs him that his status as a convicted felon means that he can never be accepted into the priesthood, but that “each of us is a priest of God”. It is advice that he takes to heart.

When he is released, Daniel’s first job is to be at a sawmill in the countryside. Upon arriving in the area, his claim to be a priest – he calls himself Father Tomasz – is taken at face value. When the elderly local priest is taken ill, Daniel is asked to stay for a few days. He is so pale and green at his first mass that he looks like he might pass out. A little help from Google about the church’s rules and rituals keeps him on track.

Any doubts his parishioners might have are willingly set aside out of their hunger to believe in this great pretender. A local tragedy has left the community angry and scarred with grief; the compassion shown by the unorthodox Father Tomasz might just be enough to heal them.

There is always the suspicion that this will not end well, but Daniel is such a sympathetic character that we want him to find a way to make everything work. 

Actor Bielenia vividly conveys the emotions that Daniel experiences, from the alertness of a trapped animal at the offenders institution to the euphoria that seems to surge through him after the delivery of a rousing sermon. His committed performance and director Komasa’s assured storytelling convince us that God can work in mysterious ways.

– Allan Hunter, Screen International

 

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