El crimen del Padre Amaro

120 minutes

The title character, a young Mexican priest being groomed for bigger things (Gael Garcia Bernal), is assigned to a small parish in Los Reyes, where he discovers that spiritual power corrupts spiritually. Adapted from a novel by Eca de Queiros, this melodrama by Carlos Carrera (2002) has been hyped for its controversy, and its sordid vision of priests keeping mistresses and taking money from drug lords is bound to raise the hackles of devout Catholics. Father Amaro finds himself the love object of a 16-year-old girl (Ana Claudia Talancon) who reveals in confession that she masturbates while fantasizing about Jesus, and when she and the priest finally do the nasty, he drapes a sheet around her to suggest the Blessed Virgin. Carrera's bitterness is breathtaking, but of course no movie can compete with the daily headlines, and his film offers little insight into the complex social demands of the priesthood. Amaro is so lacking in gravitas that there's no opportunity to explore the intense emotionality of the church in Latin America—which is the source of its temporal power. In Spanish with subtitles.

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