Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 2006. Disarming Films. Screenplay by Amy Berg. Cinematography by Jacob Kusk, Jens Schlosser. Produced by Amy Berg, Matthew Cooke, Frank Donner, Hermas Lassalle. Music by Joseph Arthur, Mick Harvey. Film Editing by Matthew Cooke. Academy Awards 2006. Boston Film Critics Awards 2006. National Society Of Film Critics Awards 2006. New York Film Critics Awards 2006. Toronto International Film Festival 2006.
Pedophile priests are familiar to the point of being a casual joke by now, but there’s absolutely nothing funny about the story of Oliver O’Grady, “Father Ollie”, an Irish Catholic priest who lived in California for decades, molesting, abusing and raping children ranging in ages from infants to pre-teens. What’s much more horrifying is the fact that whenever he was caught, his Monsignor did not turn him into the police but moved him to a different parish, thus allowing his behaviour to continue. Layer after layer is uncovered as the film interviews friends, parishioners and victims of Father Ollie’s abuse, many of whom are involved in a lawsuit against the church for willfully ignoring the situation and allowing more children to become prey to the desires of a disturbed mind. At the centre of the film is its most fascinating aspect, however: the subject himself, who would normally be a mythical figure of terror in a different film but here appears on camera quite willingly, and is candid and open about himself and his past. It’s easy to see why responsibility could be placed on his superiors: O’Grady (who is no longer a priest) is remorseful about his sins and believes that he suffers from whatever sociopathic diseases are suggested to him; at the same time there is no indication that he has any intention to stop. The film dabbles in the church’s history on the subject, includes some psychological information and some terribly heartbreaking testimonials. It’s a very hard film to watch thematically, but it is also a necessary call to action and must be seen by all.