An art film that combines both realism and hope, Jan Komasa’s “Corpus Christi,” magnetizes audiences with its outstanding performances in this compelling portrayal of redemption.
Rising star Bartosz Bielenia plays Daniel, a troubled 20-something-year-old who finds his faith in Christ while serving time in Warsaw, Poland. While in a detention center, he survives the vulgar physical abuse surrounding him in a safe haven of rosaries and mercy, shown by his priest.
After being told that no seminary would ever accept a student with his criminal record, Daniel is released on parole and sent to work at a small-town lumber factory. Upon his arrival, the cigarette smoking outsider finds himself in the town’s local church claiming to be the ministry’s new priest, a white lie meant to impress a teenage girl.
Before he can escape his lie out the sacristy windows, Daniel quickly becomes acquainted with his ministerial duties under the alias “Father Tomasz.”
Bielenia astonishes viewers in scenes depicting anxiety and uncertainty. Although the film is entirely in polish, Bielenia’s emotional and dramatic performance makes his character’s resilient determination simple for any human being to understand.
In between listening to confessions, performing sermons, and giving illegitimate blessings, Daniel uses his clerical status to reconcile the painful aftermath of a fatal car accident involving six teenagers and a condemned former alcoholic.
At first, people are skeptical of Father Tomasz because of his abnormal pastoral activities. To help the grief-stricken parents let go of their anger, he teaches them to scream and yell as loud as they can to rid themselves of their consuming pain.
Amidst the goodness Daniel tries so hard to invoke, a familiar face appears threatening to out Father Tomasz whom the parish have put their vulnerable trust in.
Komasa adds realism to the religious-oriented plot by surrounding Daniel in a world of sex and drugs. Despite his spiritual calling to priesthood, Daniel is still human, and, like everyone, he makes mistakes. But like very few, he rises from them.
Komasa’s production creates a cultural conversation that could question what it means to be a priest and whether or not an ugly past should keep those from pursuing redemption. Komasa brilliantly brings to life the widely doubted possibility of a successful spiritual transformation.
Cinematographer Piotr Sobociński Jr. creates a dark tone using blue tint and a gloomy atmosphere to fit the mournful mood of its characters. The film ends after fading into a white light, symbolizing the freedom and hope that is to come for Daniel.
Corpus Christi was released on January 25th and is nominated for this year’s Best Foreign Film award at tonight’s Academy Awards.
Photo Credit: Foundry Communications