Movie Review: 'Corpus Christi'

John Thomas

He’s been a very bad boy. As a result of 20-year-old Daniel’s (Bartosz Bielenia) violent crimes, he’s been incarcerated in a Warsaw prison. The horrific prison environment and his brutal fellow inmates might have crushed him but for the fact that he found Christ. Father Tomasz (Lukasz Simlat) presides at the Sunday services held in a room that Daniel has prepared for the event.

Daniel creates an altar and performs secondary duties for Father Tomasz during the ceremony. With intense interest, he listens attentively and studies every intonation and gesture the priest uses. Daniel’s hope to study at a seminary is in vain – they don’t accept former inmates. His only option for work, when freed, is manual labor in a remote village sawmill.

Walking out of the prison gates a free man, Daniel heads straight for the bus terminal and freedom. The bus drops him off at a desolate field with only a sign pointing to the village. He trudges across the empty landscape to finally arrive at the sawmill. One look at the bleak mill and he turns his back to it and walks towards the village. He has a higher calling.

Along the way he meets Lidia (Aleksardra Konieczna), who is just “hanging out.” She asks who he is and what he’s doing here. He quickly responds, while slipping on a black shirt and white tab, that he is Father Tomasz, fresh out of seminary. “Well then,” she replies, “maybe you could find a place to stay at the village priest’s house.” Off they go.

The village priest (Zdzislaw Wardejn) invites him in, and they share conversation, food and drinks. Daniel’s charisma and the intense passion he has for Christ is so evident that the priest offers him a position of assistant priest. With Daniel accepting, the priest’s long overdue need for medical attention can finally be addressed - Daniel can take over as priest while the actual priest is in the city being treated.

Sitting in the confessional booth and listening to a parishioner, Daniel, on his mobile phone, frantically reads the guidelines for conducting this sacrament.

One thing that has puzzled Daniel from the beginning of his stay is a memorial by the side of the road entering town. There are photographs of six or seven people, bouquets of flowers, candles and frequent groups of towns folk standing in silent attendance. Eventually Daniel learns the reason - a head-on collision that killed both the group of young people in a car and the drunken truck driver who caused the crash.

With his religious passion in full gear, Daniel decided to intervene. He also decides, reluctantly, to accept the invitation from the town mayor, who also owns the sawmill, to officiate at the opening a new wing at the mill.

Daniels trepidation about attending the ceremony is well founded. Most, if not all, of the workers are paroled prisoners. The visit did not go well and worsened with the arrival in town of the real Father Tomasz a day or so later.

Corpus Christi is directed by Jan Komasa (Credits: Warsaw ’44, Powstanie Warszawskie) and is a “should see” movie that runs 115 minutes


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