Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: El Club
Chile, 2015. Fabula. Screenplay by Guillermo Calderon, Pablo Larrain, Daniel Villalobos. Cinematography by Sergio Armstrong. Produced by Juan de Dios Larrain, Pablo Larrain. Music by Carlos Cabezas. Production Design by Estefania Larrain. Costume Design by Estefania Larrain. Film Editing by Sebastian Sepulveda. Berlin Film Festival 2015. Golden Globe Awards 2015. Toronto International Film Festival 2015.
In a tiny oceanside town in Chile, a group of defrocked priests and one former nun live in a halfway house of sorts, supported by the Catholic church who choose to keep them there rather than face the scandal of publicly disgracing them. Their sins run the gamut from the expected sexual crimes to reminders of Chile’s dark political past, but the balance is completely thrown off when a newly arrived former priest results in a visitor who stands outside their house and claims to have been the new guy’s former victim. The situation explodes and brings out a church investigator who shows up to look into the residents of the home, stop their strange practices (they unlawfully make extra money in dog races) and possibly shut them down. Pablo Larrain’s follow-up to his exciting No is a thought-provoking, sensitive and dark exploration of complicated human beings. No one is forgiven for their crimes, but it is interesting to observe people who will justify anything they have done in order to survive the present and have a future to look forward to. The dubious relationship between church and state is taken into account, always intelligently and without painful symbolism or grand speeches. The performances are riveting and some of the sequences kick up the tension to the highest degree, though it is relentlessly bleak and will not appeal to all.