In a secluded house in a small seaside town live four unrelated men and the woman who tends to the house and their needs. All former priests, they have been sent to this quiet exile to purge the sins of their pasts, the separation from their communities the worst form of punishment by the Church. They keep to a strict daily schedule devoid of all temptation and spontaneity, each moment a deliberate effort to atone for their wrongdoings.
ActorsStarring: Roberto Farías, Antonia Zegers, Alfredo Castro, Alejandro Goic, Alejandro Sieveking, Jaime Vadell, Marcelo Alonso, José Soza
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The Club is a group of disgraced priests of the Catholic Church in Chile who have been banished to live in a house of penance in a small town somewhere. They have been banished as they are no longer deemed fit to practice – and as the story unfolds the confessions of child abuse, rape, baby stealing and more make clear why.
What is interesting in this movie as compared with a, for instance, Spotlight, is that it puts the priests centre stage. It shows them not so much as Powerabusing Perverts but as Flawed Fathers, mostly completely in denial about their wrongdoings even after many years semi-locked away in penance.
When an abuse victim shows up at their door, the status quo of the Fathers’ seemingly reasonably comfortable life of purported atonement ends abruptly. When one of the Fathers ends up dead, the Church sends in an investigator-slash-counsellor priest, Padre Garcia, to find out what happened. He starts out as ‘one of those new kinds of priests’, lecturing the Flawed Fathers on their misguided missteps and tightening up the rules around the house – it is not a retreat, it is a house of penance!
As Garcia slowly finds out more over the course of the movie, life becomes less black-and-white and he finds himself conflicted and in over his head about what is best for the victim. In that sense the ending is both wonderfully incredible and incredibly infuriating.
A movie about pain, penance, and hypocrisy – and no sign of redemption. Not easy to watch and probably there is more detail to grasp for a Spanish speaker than a subtitle reader, but worth a watch it is.