I found this film confusing, boring and irritating. The trailer promises so much: faith and temptation; good and evil. To be honest, the trailer was just about the right length. There wasnít enough content to fill anymore.
A priest decides to take on the power of the local Mafia. Instead of killing him they get revenge by exposing his relationship with a thirteen-year-old boy.
Weíre shown almost nothing of this relationship except what seems very supportive and healthy for the boy. I guess thatís pretty controversial, especially as the boy is portrayed as the main instigator. Heís already happily sexually active with girls as young as twelve and the priest is a kindly, intelligent man who can do him nothing but good.
When the net closes around the boy he betrays the priest.
Thatís about it. Iíd give this one a wide berth if I were you. Dangerous and perverted message on all counts.
This film is slow and confused me with its ambivalence.† Itís about the relationship between 36 year old Father Lorenzo and Nunzio, age 13.† The father is revered in his Naples district for standing up for the ordinary people of the neighbourhood against the violence of organised crime.† The shocking nature of this and how it impacts on everyday life is effectively shown.†
Nunzio is a street kid from a broken home taken in by the priest so he didnít end up a drug addict, hustling for a fix.† Nunzio sings for a local TV station, mournful Italian love songs, and plays the church organ.† He says he wants to be a priest, for the very practical reason they eat and sleep well, and donít have to look for a job.
Lorenzo, who has a homoerotic relationship with Jesus, doesnít struggle very hard against temptation.† He tells Nunzio their love is something extra special and unique, so the boy gives the priest what he wants.† What Nunzio needs, of course, is love & affection, absent from his family life.
The story is told like a case brought before a judge, with characters speaking directly to camera so we know who they are and how they fit in.† I wasnít sure in the end if the focus of the film was paedophile priests or the role of the Catholic church supporting organised crime in Italy.†
There is no explicit onscreen sex, though we see Lorenzo and Nunzio semi-clothed in bed together so thereís no doubting their relationship.†
I didnít like Lorenzo though the film presents him as a heroic figure.† Nunzio isnít the first boy the priest has taken under his wing, despite what he tells Nunzio about their special love.† I have no sympathy for a man who exploits boys to satisfy his lust, wrapped in quasi-religious packaging to assuage his conscience, then discards them for a younger model.† Lorenzo denies communion to those who wonít oppose organised crime but has no problem violating his vows and appears to have no regrets.† Not only have there been others like Nunzio but Lorenzo appears also to have carnal relations with the young woman who brings his food.† So the boys are just a convenience?† Are we meant to think the alternative, for Nunzio to become another Mafia hood, is worse than being a priestís toy?
I was confused too about Nunzioís decision to cooperate with the authorities.† He enjoys Lorenzoís attentions and doesnít look like heís suffering, so hard then to see him a victim.† Everyone around him seemed to know and accept what was going on until the authorities became involved, which was odd.
The final section of the film draws parallels between Lorenzo and Christís Passion, with intercut scenes of Nunzioís betrayal with a re-enactment of the lead-up to the crucifixion, I found heavy-handed and disturbing.†
The Catholic church is profoundly homophobic, recently reinforced by the new pope, yet wracked by paedophile scandals all over the world.† Did Father Lorenzo become a priest to avoid confronting the fact heís gay?† I donít think this film addresses complex issues adequately.† It wants to leave it up to the viewer to make up their own mind, but itís too beautiful and romanticised (like Nunzioís awful songs).† The way Lorenzo is portrayed makes you think weíre meant to see him as a sacrificial lamb.† Disappointing and rather distasteful.