Critics everywhere declared PRIEST to be one of the best films of the year! The deeply held religious convictions of an idealistic young priest are challenged when he must face extraordinary events within his own congregat... more »ion. Soon, he is forced to make the impossible choice between keeping the faith and exposing the truth! A gripping and powerful story -- see this unforgettable big-screen hit for yourself!« less
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 05/18/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At its core, "Priest" is a thoughtful examination of faith, conscience, and feeling and how those concepts can sometimes conflict with dogma, ideology, and tradition ... more simply put, spirituality versus religion. As a long-term associate of an Interfaith agency (and someone who deals with persons from many different faith communities), I found the characters and plot realistic, and was gratified that the script offered no easy answers to the dilemmas it presented. Real life is often messy; the film demonstrates that there are times when an ideal moral choice is neither clear nor even possible, and that a religious calling does not exempt one from the temptations and foibles of being human. These same tensions have been approached (usually as subplots) in many films over the years, including "The Song of Bernadette" (1943), "The Keys of the Kingdom" (1945), and "The Left Hand of God" (1955); "Priest" pushes the envelope by exploring these themes in the context of sexual situations within the Church.The DVD transfer is beautiful, offering clear and crisp video and sound. The film features a superb performance by Linus Roache, and some very artful editing (with the exception of a couple of spots in which it's obvious that scenes have been snipped by the censors' scissors). I would have liked a few extras on the DVD, like an interview with the director and/or screenwriter, and perhaps some balanced coverage of the controversy the film has generated since its release. A theatrical trailer would also have been welcome. (How was this volatile film marketed, both in the USA and abroad?) These missing features aside, this movie (to date) is not frequently screened on US cable or broadcast television, and I welcomed the opportunity to see it, and to be moved by it."
An effective, thought-inducing film experience!
D. Litton | Wilmington, NC | 08/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A take-it-or-leave-it drama, "Priest" is not your everyday religious examination film. It deals more with issues considered taboo by the church, such as homosexuality, incest, and the judgmental society. Some people may even lose interest from it; this is not a movie for everyone. But, it does leave a lasting impression in the mind, raising up questions and debates about religion that even the film itself does not resolve. The film begins with a man carrying a cross from the church to the home of the Bishop, who has replaced him with a newcomer to Liverpool. Greg Pilkington (Linus Roache), a conservative man of the cloth, arrives and is appalled that fellow priest Matthew Thomas (Tom Wilkinson), relinquishes celibacy and has a relationship with their black housekeeper. This puts a small strain on their growing friendship, but it gives way once bigger conflicts begins appearing. Just as Father Matthew avoids celibacy, Greg breaks the vow by going to a pub and picking up (surprise) a man, going back to his place, and having a one-night stand. Once his homosexuality is revealed to us, the movie takes on a much bigger challenge of mixing religious persecution and moral beliefs, as Greg must choose between keeping his vows of faith or revealing his secrets. Greg's homosexuality is handled in many different ways, and seen in many different views and opinions, including his own of himself. Once it becomes known that their priest is gay, the members of the congregation begins to dissipate, and even the Bishop asks him to leave, even as Father Matthew pleads with them to be compassionate. This prejudice and hate makes way for some very nice introspective into the hypocrisy that permeates the church and its followers ("Let he who is without sin cast the first stone"). It is Greg's own inner torment that heightens the movie to an emotional level. He establishes the fact early on that he considers his own lifestyle to be sinful, yet he cannot stop thinking about being with a man. He begins to rationalize with a crucifix in his room over what is right and wrong; his inner conflicts with himself are powerful and moving, and just as he asks God for an answer, we find ourselves asking the same question.His inner torment extends to other situations as well. In a very intriguing side story, a young girl named Lisa reveals that her father sexually abuses her, putting Greg on the spot of whether to break the vow of confession or keep these truths hidden. The situation gets very tense as Greg begins tearing himself apart inside. Not only is he fighting his own personal war, but someone else's, someone with whom he will find comfort at the film's heart-stopping finale. The only flaw that blemishes this film's beauty is the way in which it showcases Father Matthew as a gay rights activist during the movie's third act. He invites Greg to stand with him for a service, which causes an uproar among the parishioners. He then proceeds to invite people to leave the church. His words here seem more like demands than pleas, sounding just a bit, well, preachy. It is the flawless performances of the cast that really bring home the emotion throughout this film. Linus Roache gives one of the best performances of 1995 as Father Greg, torn between himself and his vows to the church. He brings true emotion to the role, so much so that we believe in his character and his fears. Tom Wilkinson is convincing as Father Matthew, whose open-minded thinking serves as a beacon of light for Greg. Wilkinson is blunt and forceful, a brilliant mix. "Priest" is a highly controversial film about religion and sin, about taking a stand for ones beliefs or backing down in fear, and ultimately about facing that fear. We can believe in Greg's pain because we have all experienced a situation like his. And whether or not you may agree with the movie's message, or however bad you may consider it to be, a movie that makes you think about so many issues for days after you see it cannot be bad."
It's More Relevant Now Than Ever.
The Groove | Boston, MA | 08/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a Bostonian like me, chances are you must be sick to death of the nonstop media coverage of the priest abuse scandals. But with all that's going on in the Catholic church, a movie like "Priest" is even more vital now than ever. In one of the most underrated performances ever, Linus Roache is Father Greg, who, upon being newly assigned to a British parish, gets caught in a web of drama involving child abuse, sexuality, the sacrament of Confession, and the priestly vow of celibacy. Without revealing spoilers, "Priest" confronts some pretty throny issues lesser films would dodge. It also has great performances from Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson ("In the Bedroom") and Robert Carlyle, who shows not a trace of the frightening intensity he brought to his role in "Trainspotting." The film borders on sentiment during a scene when they play "You'll Never Walk Alone," but otherwise, it's a pretty solid affair. While Miramax spends millions of dollars hyping to death more mainstream films like "Chocolat" and "Cider House Rules," "Priest" gets the shaft on DVD. There are virtually no features on this package. Even so, this film is worth a look, for it is one of the very best movies of the 1990s."
A superb film, shame about the censored DVD version
talking sheep | vancouver, canada | 09/19/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I just watched this film again ten years after its original release and was still absolutely gripped by it. The acting is excellent (especially Roache and Wilkinson -- it was also a delight to see a young Robert Carlyle in a very good supporting role). The themes of faith, compassion, and forgiveness are handled in complex and thoughtful ways -- never simplified or sentimentalized. For such a serious movie, it also has some hilarious moments, with witty dialogues popping up all the time to provide intelligent comic relief. I would have given the movei 5 stars were it not for the fact that the US DVD version cut over 7 minutes from the original film: including scenes that develop some minor relationships between characters, a much more realistic sex scene, more wicked humour from Father Greg later on in the film, more scenes establishing the atmosphere of the parish's day-to-day life, and -- most crucially -- a far more open ending re: the relationship between Father Greg and his lover. For those of you who own a multi-system player that plays PAL, I recommend getting the uncut VHS version from amazon.uk instead. For folks at distribution -- would you please put out a new version of the DVD that restores the original cut, and include some good extras as the previous reviewer suggests? Fans of this great film would certainly appreciate it!"
Heretical but holy
talking sheep | 11/14/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I feel those who condemn this film as anti-catholic are actually missing the point. The film is heretical not blasphamous. Not once does it question the existence of God or the importance of the Priesthood. Instead it is about the heavy burden placed on the shoulders of those who serve the church. Priests who are sent out into the real world but expected to behave like Monks living in a closed order. The criticism is of a church imposing celibacy on Priests as if sex is a distraction to faith. What the film tries to portray is that the opposite is true. Good Priests whose whole energy is directed towards remaining celibate. Jimmy McGovern is himself a practising Catholic and to just dismiss his work as an attack on religion is ridiculous. I actually found the film strangely religious. The scene of Father Greg ranting at the crucifix at the same time the abusive Father was discovered was like a moment of divine intervention."