At its core, Pablo Larrain’s “The Club” is about uncovering the dark secrets of the Catholic Church, not through investigative reporting but rather through a psychological realist lens of fictional characters. Four ex-communicated priests and a nun to be exact. All five have been punished by the church for committing heretical crimes—we learn at least two of them abused children—but for the good of their own image, the church has relegated them to a private home in order to avoid a public scandal. They spend their days in a routine manner, singing, praying, and for their own pleasure, dog-racing. That routine is broken when a new priest arrives to join them in their imprisonment but quickly commits suicide after being followed by a homeless man who he abused when the latter was only a child. In response, the Catholic Church sends an investigative priest to shut down the house. Once there, however, he finds himself embroiled in the group’s scandalous politics and is forced to choose between sacrificing his career to take down their corruption or to keep silent. Larrain films things at a very slow pace, and he’s no Robert Bresson. The result is that I found “The Club” to be extremely dull. There are few saving moments of grace; a mid-shot through a doorway of the guilt-ridden investigator, Larrain choosing that small use of space in order to reflect the character’s inner turmoil; the choice of using an ocean-side town in combination with many scenes taking place at sunset, thus at times giving “The Club” a gorgeous color combination of oranges and blues. Ultimately, I think “The Club” has a good script (which Larrain co-wrote alongside Guillermo Calderon and Daniel Villalobos), but the direction simply meanders the film along until its end.
Published by Anthony Dominguez
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