Corpus Christi (2019)

Love, forgiveness and redemption weigh heavily in this Oscar-nominated religious-based drama about a young sinner who unexpectedly poses as a priest in a small Polish town. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Jan Komasa
2019 | Poland | Drama | 115 mins | 2.39:1 | Polish
R21 (passed clean) for sexual scenes

Cast: Bartosz Bielenia, Aleksandra Konieczna, Eliza Rycembel
Plot: A 20-year-old who experiences a spiritual transformation while living in a Youth Detention Center, wants to become a priest but this is impossible because of his criminal record.
Awards: Won Label Europa Cinemas & Edipo Re Award (Venice); Nom. for Best International Feature (Oscars)
International Sales: New Europe Film Sales

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Religion, Grief, Redemption
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: The Projector – Polish Film Festival
Spoilers: No

In a competitive year for international cinema, at least in the context of Oscar submissions for Best International Feature, Poland’s Corpus Christi managed to get into the top five, alongside the likes of eventual winner Parasite, Pain and Glory, Honeyland and Les Miserables

Marketed as a religion-based drama with a strong central performance by Bartosz Bielenia, who plays Daniel, an ex-convict who stays in a ‘juvie’, a detention centre of sorts for youths who had engaged in crime. 

When Daniel goes to another town for a traineeship in a sawmill, he is inadvertently mistaken for a priest after a visit to the local church and must act the part. 

“Silence can also be a prayer.”

Love, forgiveness and redemption weigh heavily in the narrative as key themes, while Daniel’s dashed hope of becoming a full-fledged priest during his juvie days now seems like a practical—if surreal—reality. 

Jan Komasa, who made the rather disturbing Suicide Room (2011), gives an unlikely stately elegance to his work, focusing on creating an atmosphere of grief and torment in a small town suffering from the aftermath of a tragic accident through a composed if moody visual style. 

Can Daniel lift the spirits of a forsaken community?  Can a sinner preach about faith? Komasa doesn’t have a straightforward answer for an unorthodox priest who is also searching for answers in himself and others. 

Ultimately, Corpus Christi poses the biggest question of all: can religion ever provide that answer, no matter how much faith is put into believing that it can?

Grade: B+




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