CORPUS CHRISTI
(***Ĺ)

"...reminds me of countless great film noir movies..."

A Well Acted, Riveting Drama About Redemption

(022120) 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 (2014)

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 European actor.

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 investigate.

The film starts out being somewhat formulaic (kind of like the first half of The Mustang meets 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 anywhere yet.
 

Directed by:   Jan Komasa
Written by:   Mateusz Pacewicz
Starring:   Bartosz Bielenia, Aleksandra Konieczna, Eliza Rycembe
Released:   02/14/2020
Length:   116 minutes
Rating:   Unrated at press time

For more writings by Vittorio Carli go to www.artinterviews.org and www.chicagopoetry.org plus look for his recent book Tape Worm Salad with Olive Oil for Extra Flavor.Come to the Monthly Show every first Saturday at Intersect Cafe at 1727 W. 18th near Damen and 18th in Pilsen from 6-8 featuring Poetry/Spoken Word (also some Music and Performance Art), Hosted by Vittorio Carli, Featuring  The Two Bobs (Lawrence and Raskow) on March 7.

Vittorio Carli is the narrator of a new movie titled The Last Hippie Freak which recently played in Canada and will soon be streamed online. To see a preview go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWQf-UruQyw.
 It will play at the Gene Siskel Center on June 20th.

CORPUS CHRISTI  © 2020 Aurum Film
Review © 2020 Alternate Reality, Inc.