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The Crime of Father Amaro
2002 - - 132 Mins.
Director: Carlos Carrera
Producer: Federico Ripstein
Written By: Vicente Leñero
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Ana Claudia Talancon, Sancho Gracia, Angelica Aragon, Damian
Review by: Jennie Kermode
   
A new priest in a remote Mexican parish, Father Amoro (played by 'Y tu Mama Tambien''s Bernal) starts off out of his depth, despite his easy charm and the apparent friendliness of his colleagues, and things can only get worse in a dark fable which examines many of the dilemmas facing the twenty first century Catholic church. Beginning with a violent incident in which a bus full of travellers are robbed at gunpoint, the film softens with gentle humour and whimsy which would not be out of place in 'Father Ted', but our young hero's unwillingness to look beyond this sets the stage for his downfall. Father Amoro is young and handsome and his passions are not directed entirely toward the church. In a complex political climate where the genuinely principled Father Natalio is increasingly ostracised, Father Amoro's good intentions soon give way to his ambition, with what seem like small crimes gradually building into something terrible. Along the way, supporting characters are sacrificed, suffering abuses which are never put right. There is no justice in this story. Rather, it is a portrait of a community destroyed by greed.

Father Amoro's relationship with the teenaged Amelia is one of the most interesting studies of this type in recent film history. It's easy to perceive the girl as competent to consent to sexual activity, even in a politically dangerous situation, but hard to understand how anyone could expect her to deal with the consequences. Father Amoro's awareness of this seems slight, as he is unable to focus on anybody but himself. He never goes out of his way to do harm, but his carelessness makes Amelia increasingly vulnerable and isolated.

'The Crime of Father Amoro' is a seductive
and vivid little film with a powerful sense of place, the Mexican landscape dominating its provincial town where passions of all sorts can get out of control. Its brujas and tribesmen leave a potent impression of alternative civilisation. Although some critics have called it anti-Catholic, a strong sense of the value of religion in ordinary people's lives is retained throughout, and it is only occasionally heavy handed. Taken as a whole, it is much more of a character piece.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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