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Priest

Year: 1994
Studio: Miramax
Director: Antonia Bird
Writer: Jimmy McGovern
Cast: Linus Roache, Tom Wilkinson, Robert Carlyle

I appreciated the intent of this film, but the direction and script was kind of pedestrian for the subject matter. Maybe that was intentional to make it a little more palatable.

Idealistic young priest Greg (Roache, who disappeared faster than Lou Diamond Phillips after La Bamba) comes to a new parish he's going to share with older, more tolerant priest Mathew (Wilkinson).

Greg disapproves of Mathew's affair with their female household helper, and soon we find out why - he spends evenings trawling gay bars for sexual encounters with men.

When one (Carlyle) affects him more than he intends, it brings his moral conundrum into sharp focus. He knows it will destroy his career if his secret ever comes out, and it may just destroy his soul when it comes time to choose whether he himself is worthy of God's love. When his erstwhile boyfriend comes into the church for communion Greg refuses to give it to him, condemning the man for what he is even though he knows it means he's condemning himself.

Roache is stiff and uncomfortable looking - it's Wilkinson who gives the better performance and has the better role as the older man who knows only too well life's grey areas and how he has to look at them through the prism of his faith.

A worthy idea for a film and with a plot that keeps you in its grasp, but it could have been a little grittier.

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