An Indictment of Church Dogma and Human Folly: Priest Fights for Morality

Priest (Movie Review)

Priest is a film that provoked outrage from Catholics yet won prizes at Berlin and Toronto. Although it attacks some of the church’s more dogmatic prohibitions on homosexuality, it remains a deeply moral drama.

Linus Roache’s performance is powerful as a conflicted priest who struggles with his homosexual urges and begins a relationship with Graham, a bar pick-up.

Director: Antonia Bird

Born in London to a stage manager mother and an actor father, Antonia Bird first directed for television in episodes of EastEnders and Casualty. Her breakthrough came with 1993’s Safe, which portrayed homeless young people and scored her a TV BAFTA and Edinburgh Film Festival first film award.

After a series of successful films for the BBC, including 2000’s Care (about sexual abuse in foster homes), Priest found her breaking into mainstream cinema. Written by Jimmy McGovern and starring Linus Roache, it sees a young gay priest torn between his vows and earthly desires when he befriends an older colleague who disregards celibacy.

Following Priest, Bird directed Mad Love (1995) starring Drew Barrymore and Chris O’Donnell and the gangster film Face (1997) starring Robert Carlyle. She also set up production company 4Way Pictures with Carlyle, journalist Mark Cousins and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh. Bird died at age 62 from anaplastic thyroid cancer. She was survived by her partner and children.

Cast: Linus Roache

Linus Roache, the son of Ken Barlow from long-running British soap opera Coronation Street and actress Anna Cropper, delivers a strong performance as idealistic Catholic priest Father Greg Pilkington in Antonia Bird’s Priest. The film was controversial and prompted outrage from the Church, but it was also critically acclaimed.

When he arrives at his new Liverpool parish, Father Pilkington is shocked to find his elder colleague ignores the vow of celibacy and sleeps with his housekeeper. He also indulges his homosexual desires by picking up men in gay bars. When a young girl confides that her incestuous father abused her, Pilkington must decide whether to keep the secret or break the law.

This drama teeters on the brink of preachiness and soap opera, but it is saved by tight direction and fine acting. It is not anti-Catholic, but it is an indictment of human folly. Roache went on to star as executive ADA Michael Cutter in Law and Order for many years and more recently played Ecbert, King of Wessex in Vikings.

Story: Linus Roache

British actor Linus Roache gives a strong performance as a Roman Catholic priest who struggles with his sexuality and his faith in Antonia Bird’s Priest, which earned critical acclaim but was attacked as anti-Catholic. Upon arriving in his new parish in Liverpool, Father Greg Pilkington finds himself embroiled in no-win situations: His senior priest is having a sexual relationship with the rectory housekeeper; he’s having an affair with Graham (Robert Carlyle); and he hears in a confession that a young girl is being abused by her father.

Priest is a sharp drama that delves into the church’s dogmatic certainty and asks what it means to live chastely. And while it does attack the church, the film is primarily about human folly. For that reason, it’s an effective morality play. But it would have been stronger if it had stayed with one story and not hopped between plotlines, like the classic Alfred Hitchcock film I Confess.

Rating: 4.5

Priest is a powerful drama that explores the relationship between religion and sin. It is a movie that will make you think about your beliefs and how they relate to your actions. The story is about a priest who defies his church to hunt and kill vampires. The film is based on true events and is well-acted. It also has good action sequences and surprisingly decent creature designs.

The movie is a bit slow but worth the watch. Linus Roache gives a remarkable performance as Father Greg Pilkington, a homosexual with a gay lover frowned upon by the church. He is torn between his career as a priest and his personal life. When he hears the confession of a young girl who is being sexually molested by her father, he must choose between morality and faith. The movie is both disturbing and thought provoking. It also asks questions about the religion that we all follow.

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