- Colin Fraser
FOUR STARS A small town is turned inside out when a young man from juvenile detention poses as a priest
Bartosz Bielenia, Aleksandra Konieczna
DRAMA Polish #CORPUSCHRISTI
Dressed in finery well suited to black comedy, Jan Komasa steers this forceful drama straight down the line to bring about a searing exploration of life, community, salvation and the place of the church in 21st century Poland. It’s nothing if not brutal. But then, when hasn’t religion been thus?
Twenty year old Daniel has served his time in the juvenile justice system. Having travelled across Poland to take up a new job, he arrives in a small town where he’s mistaken for a locum priest. Daniel may have found God, but he’s also an opportunist and with a costume-store collar takes the position recently vacated due illness. It’s that or back-breaking work at the sawmill. Well you would, wouldn’t you.
Although Komasa requires a small leap of faith from his audience, this also speaks to a willingness of the townsfolk (and perhaps the country) to take that leap with Daniel. He has arrived with a fresh, unencumbered style that many of the parish find appealing (and you could easily draw a line here to populist politics). Apart from the basics picked up in prison, the fake priest is so fresh to his profession that he learns on the job with guidance from Google. In world heavy with tradition, his mold-breaking is engaging at the very least.
Danielt’s journey toward a kind of enlightenment is a fascinating one. He helps parishioners come to terms with a tragic accident, assists an ostracised widow, drinks heavily, smokes joints and has sex all while trying to avoid papal ire. And this being a good religious parable, lessons abound. But goodwill only gets you so far of course, and it’s not long before Daniel’s house of cards starts to wobble.
Komasa’s drama has a breathtaking intensity, a contemporary story bathed in Old Testament fire and fury. His leads are magnetic, the camerawork confidently supporting a style that urges you to the edge of your seat. Will Daniel get away with it? Should Daniel get away with it, for he is an imposter and a price must be paid. Komasa is certain about this. And when Daniel pays, he pays hard. It’s brutal.