×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

In the Name of

This angst-ridden drama treats loaded subject matter -- homosexuality, priests who break their vows -- in a way that feels far past its sell-by date in the West.

With:
With: Andrzej Chyra, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Lukasz Simlat, Maja Ostaszewska, Tomasz Schuchardt.

A lonely, troubled priest running a boy’s detention center in an unpleasant Polish backwater becomes smitten with a feral teen from the countryside in Malgoska Szumowska’s angst-ridden drama “In the Name of.” Treating loaded subject matter — homosexuality, priests who break their vows — in a way that feels far past its sell-by date in the West (after all, it’s been nearly 20 years since Antonia Bird’s “Priest”), the pic is unlikely to replicate the offshore sales of the helmer’s international arthouse pickup “Elles,” but should travel extensively on the Polish fest circuit.

As his bishop says, sensitive Father Adam (Polish star Andrzej Chyra) has great success with delinquent boys. He keeps the rough crowd he’s currently working with out of the reformatory by supervising them as they break rocks for construction projects, play soccer and unwillingly confess their sins.

Wild pyromaniac Lukasz (up-and-comer Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, now the helmer’s husband), a nearly mute local with a mentally disabled brother, spends some recreation time with the boys’ center inmates. When he appears, covered with blood, on Adam’s doorstep in the middle of the night, the priest ministers to the wounded lad, in the process awakening the physical desires he seeks to repress through his daily runs in the forest.

At the one-hour mark, what had first appeared to be a grungy slice of redneck life turns melodramatic as Adam hits the bottle, and tough new boy Adrian (Tomasz Schuchardt) spreads rumors about Adam’s sexuality while stirring up trouble elsewhere at he center. On a bender, Adam tearfully confesses to his sister in Toronto via Skype, “I’m not a pedophile — just a faggot.”

The screenplay by Szumowska and Michal Englert is careful not to judge its protagonist; in press notes, the director insists the story is about love and longing rather than the real-life scandals of the church. At the same time, Szumowska uses Christian imagery throughout in a way that seems likely to court controversy. Although the film has already been attacked, sight unseen, in the Polish press for daring to depict a gay priest, local viewers may be more upset by the portrayal of a narrow-minded, homophobic, anti-Semitic, provincial Poland, and of a church bureaucracy that transfers priests with questionable pasts from posting to posting.

While thesps Chyra and Kosciukiewicz (who were cast as father and son in Jacek Borcuch’s “All That I Love”) embody the physical aspect of their characters’ relationship comfortably enough, their pairing as lovers lacks both chemistry and narrative credibility. Restless lensing by Englert, Szumowska’s longtime cameraman (also serving as co-producer and co-scribe), bathes much of the proceedings in a golden light, an odd choice for the mostly gritty action. Love scenes are accompanied by a gratingly saccharine theme by Szumowska’s usual composers, Pawel Mykietyn and Adam Walicki.

Popular on Variety

In the Name of

Poland

Production: A Kino Swiat release of a Mental Disorder 4 production in co-production with Canal Plus Poland, Zentropa Intl. Poland with the support of the Polish Film Institute. (International sales: Memento, Paris.) Produced by Agnieszka Kurzydlo. Co-producers, Beata Ryczkowska, Malgoska Szumowska, Peter Garde, Michal Englert. Directed by Malgoska Szumowska. Screenplay, Szumowska, Michal Englert.

Crew: Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Englert; editor, Jacek Drosio; music, Pawel Mykietyn, Adam Walicki; production designer, Marek Zawierucha; costume designers, Katarzyna Lewinska, Julia Jarza-Bratiniec; sound (Dolby Digital), Maria Chilarecka, Krzysztof Stasiak. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 8, 2013. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With: Andrzej Chyra, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Lukasz Simlat, Maja Ostaszewska, Tomasz Schuchardt.

More Film

  • Harry Connick Jr. American Idol

    Harry Connick Jr. to Receive Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

    Grammy and Emmy Award winner Harry Connick Jr will be honored with at star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next week. The ceremony will take place on the morning of Oct. 24. “When choosing a star location, we try to incorporate ties to the honoree and this one turned out to be a coincidence [...]

  • Zombieland: Double Tap

    Film Review: 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    The zombies have evolved in “Zombieland: Double Tap”; the comedy not so much. But that’s OK, because Ruben Fleischer’s 2009 breakout hit — which gobbled up $75.6 million in a genre fast approaching its pop-culture saturation point — was already a few steps ahead of the curve: Its central quartet actually knew they were living [...]

  • Chinese director Jia Zhangke at the

    Iconic Chinese Auteur Jia Zhangke Touts Trio of Projects at Pingyao

    No one attending the Pingyao International Film Festival can escape learning about Jia Zhangke’s upcoming projects, with the same three trailers for them playing before each and every screening. The art house icon, turned businessman is ever-present in the historic town. First off, there is a new collaboration between Jia and Momo, a Chinese social [...]

  • Plans to Build New Film Studio

    Plans for New London Film Studio Run Into Difficulties

    Plans to build a major new film and TV studio complex in London to take advantage of Britain’s production boom have run into difficulties. Be First, the local Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration company spearheading the project, says that Los Angeles-based developer Pacifica Ventures will no longer be involved in the project. Pacifica was selected [...]

  • La Rouei

    Lumiere Festival to Premiere Epic Restoration of 'La Roue'

    LYON, France  —  This coming Saturday and Sunday, the Lumière Festival will turn back the clock nearly one hundred years as the festival premieres a new completed reconstruction of Abel Gance’s 1923 masterpiece “La Roue” (“The Wheel”) that restores the classic to its original 7.5 hour length. Consisting of a prologue and four movements, “La [...]

  • Lina Wertmuller portrait

    Lina Wertmuller’s Exceptional Career Revisited

    In the still American-led realm of the Academy Awards, it’s unusual for the helmer of a film not in the English language to score a Best Director nomination. It’s far rarer still, meanwhile, for a woman to be nominated in the category at all: just five have done so in 91 years. Only one director, [...]

  • Fifth Seal

    Lumière Festival Honors Hungary, Screens Classics ‘Women,’ ‘The Fifth Seal’

    For the fifth year running, Lyon’s Lumière Festival will honor Hungarian cinema and invite guests of the Hungarian National Film Fund to present two classic Hungarian films from important national filmmakers, Márta Mészáros’ “Ők ketten” (“Women”) and Zoltán Fábri’s “Fifth Seal.” Both films will be presented by Lumière Festival special guest Marina Vlady on Oct [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content