In the Name Of
Directed by Malgoska Szumowska
This tale of the gay priesthood is one of those sumptuously colored, thunderingly-scored contemporary flicks (foreign, domestic) wherein a highly charged situation stands in for drama. Here, the rugged Adam (Andrzej Chyra), transferred to a small parish, takes charge of a group of wayward boys doing community service. Adam resists, uh, Eve—the wife of his assistant, another troubled, rule-abiding man, whom Eve once lured away from the seminary—because his fetish isn’t priests or their spouses. Neither is it young boys, the film points out—Adam just likes guys. Like his many anxious cinematic brethren (lay, clergy), Adam goes for long runs in the woods to clear his mind, particularly after a saintly, silent local teenager (Mateusz Kociukiewicz) appears in town, ministering, in a way, to the needy.
Though he’s a kind man (his sister tells him over Skype) and, as we see, a good priest, Adam continues not to satisfy his longings even as they’re enacted by and among his charges, a rough crowd to whom the camera nonetheless grants humanity. They’re very young, these boys, with their rounded faces, freckles, and noses they haven’t grown into yet. Chyra, too, is human: wracked and wrecked and touchingly tormented. He and Kociukiewicz are honest, but for the movie, that isn’t enough. The music swells; a Band of Horses track makes a sweeping and improbable appearance, first as a drunken Adam takes a portrait of the Pope for a spin, and then as a religious procession tramps through meadows during magic hour. Though there’s a nice narrative logic to In the Name Of that meets a desire for symmetry—characters double and doings repeat; near-misses become close-saves—I’m ready already for the funeral of these heartstring-tuggers. Haven’t we suffered enough?
Opens October 30