Priest (1994)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Gay & Lesbian Films  |   Release Date - Mar 17, 1995 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

It's easy to see why some knee-jerk Catholic groups opposed Antonia Bird's daring Priest, as it posits violations of two sacred Catholic church beliefs: heterosexuality and the unimpeachable privacy of the confessional. It's the latter that yields a more interesting conundrum for secular viewers, who may not be so shocked by the idea of a homosexual donning the cloth. After all, traditionally, a priest should no sooner violate confidentiality than a doctor or attorney. Either of those professionals would expect to lose the confidence of their clients if they betrayed that vow, so wouldn't a priest who practiced selective interference in the lives of those who depend on his silence deserve equal backlash? However, the promise of secrecy also relegates the priest to unconscionable passivity, which doesn't sit well with Linus Roache's title character either. While his sexual immodesties are clearly meant as the button-pushing issue, flying in the face of both celibacy and heterosexuality, the child molestation issue is the more frustrating, the more universal moral quandary. Bird fashions a captivating character portrait out of these ingredients, even if she's a little too eager to stir up ill will toward Catholics, many of whom are unsympathetic caricatures. Tom Wilkinson and Robert Carlyle submit layered supporting performances.