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Original Title:
El Club

Four priests and a nun are serving a penance for their past crimes, but that past inevitably comes back to haunt them.

Pablo Larrain, Guilermo Calderon, Daniel Villalobos

The Club Film Review

Wed 16 Mar, 2016 @ 00:48 GMT

It’s fair to say that the Catholic Church has come in for a fair amount of criticism in recent times, so it’s inevitable that this is something that filmmakers have sought to illustrate on the big screen. In some ways, it’s even more inevitable that visionary Chilean director Pablo Larrain, who brought to life so vividly his home country’s struggles under the Pinochet government in the Oscar-nominated No, took it upon himself to tackle this area, and he has done so in typically insightful fashion.

In the small Chilean beach town of La Boca, four ‘retired’ priests, alongside a female caretaker/nun (Antonia Zegers), are living out a seemingly normal existence. That is until the arrival one day of another man of the cloth who seems to have the world on his shoulders. When a young man from his past by the name of Sandokan (Roberto Farias) shows up outside the priests’ residence, it soon becomes clear that all is not what it has seemed and that the peace is about to be shattered abruptly. The arrival of yet another priest, Father Garcia (Marcelo Alonso), who also happens to be a psychologist, forces them to confront the past that has come back to haunt them.

Let’s make no bones about it, this is hard-hitting stuff, and it’s a testament to Larrain’s fearlessness as a filmmaker that he even decided to take on this project in the first place. Not only has he done this, but he also manages to treat the subject matter with a sensitivity that creates a subtlety throughout despite the graphic nature of the film’s content both visually and verbally. A great script, direction and cast all make this possible.

Little wonder then, that upon its release last year The Club was lavished with praise. Among the prestigious honours that were bestowed upon it in 2015 were the Grand Jury Prize a the Berlin International Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination the Best Foreign Language Film category. Now film fans in the UK and Ireland will be able to see for themselves, as the movie is being released on Good Friday, March 25, in a controversial move that will no doubt give it plenty of publicity, rightly or wrongly.

And really, it’s only in terms of controversy and the power to shock that The Club can have any criticism aimed towards it. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but in no way is it ever gratuitous with it. If you can get past that, you’ll realise that this a genuinely important piece of filmmaking.

*The Club, directed by Pablo Larrain, is in UK cinemas from March 25 with a special Preview Screening and Panel Discussion at Curzon Soho on Monday, March 25 at 6.20pm #TheClubFilm

A powerful, in-depth snapshot of the controversies facing the priesthood.
Extremely graphic and explicit in places - view with caution.
Total Score