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