Corpus Christi (Boże Ciało) is an emotionally explosive Polish/French drama
based on a true story about an Excon who is seeking spiritual redemption. The
film was well directed by Jan Komasa, a highly regarded Polish film director,
screenwriter, and producer who made the films Suicide Room (2011) and Warsaw 44
The film has received near universal critical acclaim and several prestigious
awards. It was nominated for Best International Film at the 92nd Academy Awards
(it lost to Parasite). Also, the lead actor, Bartosz Bielenia won the award for
Best Actor at the Chicago International Film Festival for his work in the film,
and he earned the Shooting Stars Award for the most promising up-and-coming
The film reminds me of countless great film noir movies (such as Sam Fullerís
unforgettable Naked Kiss) because it is about a man who tries to turn his life
around, but his new prosperous life is threatened because there is a danger that
his criminal past will come out.
The film was shot on location near where the filmís director grew up. Daniel is
a twenty-year-old in a Warsaw prison. While he was a prisoner Daniel had found
God (a similar thing happened to Malcolm X), and he wants more than anything to
be a priest. He even gets a priestís shirt with a clerical collar that he wears
in public. But he is told to his dismay that because of his criminal past, he
will never be able to get into a seminary. The youthful offender gets early
probation and is sent to a remote village to do hard labor in a sawmill.
He shows up in a local church with his special shirt and he is mistaken for a
real priest. He goes along with the mistake and eventually the elder priest asks
him to start conducting masses. His fiery and unconventional sermons are
refreshingly direct, and honest, and part of the clergy seems to love him while
the other half is horrified.
Daniel moves into a house owned by Lidia (Aleksandra Konieczna) and he gets to
know the townspeople as he ministers to them. His advice is often commonsensical
yet unconventional. When a woman confesses to beating him up he orders her to
spend some to biking with her son to gradually regain his trust.
He eventually gains the respect of much of the laity, but three things threaten
his situation. A felon that knows about Danielís criminal past demands to get
5000 dollars or he will spill the beans about his past. Lidiaís beautiful
daughter (well played by Eliza Rycembe) begins to fall for him, and it is
obvious that he also has feelings for her (they always seem to gaze at each
other as if they want to rip the other oneís clothes off). Lastly, he begins the
find out that the circumstances behind a fatal accident are not what they seem,
and a powerful and well connected local business man threatens him not to
The film starts out being somewhat formulaic (kind of like the first half of
First Reformed) but it goes in some highly unexpected directions.
The film is also good looking and it also benefits from stunning blue tinged
cinematography from Piotr Sobociński Jr.
But the thing that makes this film rise most above the pack is the most is
compelling, transcendent performance of Bartosz Bielenia, who is positively
riveting and shows great promise. In Polish with English sub-titles. Currently
Playing at the Wilmette Theatre and the Music Box, but it is not streaming