This review was corrected on Feb. 13, 2003.
A claustrophobic crisis-drama that comes off a little too theatrically to be as provoking as it means to be, writer-helmer Marion Comer’s feature bow “Boxed” reps an earnest if didactic stab at encapsulating the contradictions of religious/nationalist fervor in a fictive IRA standoff. This is one instance where the now-tired Dogme vocabulary might have juiced a quasi-verite situation; conventional video lensing instead heightens staginess, and pic will fare much better on the small screen.
Chafing under the authority of his disillusioned elder Father Moran (Jim Norton) at a rural parish, idealistic young Catholic seminary grad Father Brendan (Tom Jordan Murphy) is mistaken for the former and hauled to an abandoned house by five IRA members. He’s to perform last rites for an apparent informer already bound and beaten near death. But he refuses to take part in the murder, barricading himself in the prisoner’s room, then arguing with his captors when the man dies and a Protestant intruder is found lurking. Meanwhile, Brit army troops close in. Brendan’s self-sacrificing nobility is a bit overbearing, and dialogue tends toward speechifying, despite good cast’s commitment. Modest tech aspects are adequate.