The BBC produced this and, God knows, might try keeping it in the closet the same way they did with Brimstone and Treacle. (A piece like this could conceivably even receive a special distinction and be tossed into that special room at the Vatican with hidden pieces of broken statues.)

Onwards, however, to the tale of cloth that dare not speak its name: a section of the city where the area is depressed and the people are even more depressing. Into the local parish the new, somewhat idealistic, and slightly homosexual priest arrives. His opinions and beliefs become confused as he is confronted with an urban reality surrounding him which includes incest, suffering, and broken vows. All of this, combined with his own sexual orientation, complicates his ecclesiastical life and, eventually, adversely affects his standing in the community.

Despite a strong performance by Linus Roache, the frustrations and internal struggles undergone by the young priest are not completely or sufficiently expressed to make them accessible to every viewer. In other words, you have a bigger advantage in understanding this film if you're either Catholic or gay, or both. Tom Wilkinson also gives a fine performance as the supportive mentor who tries to assist and comfort the new priest whenever he can.

Mass Appeal, an American parallel starring Jack Lemmon and Zelijko Ivanek, deals with similarly stirring issues. Although often using a lighter approach, it could easily be placed on a double bill with Priest.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett