If Oscar-winning “Parasite” has the potential to change the landscape for subtitled films in the United States, “Corpus Christi”, which lost to “Parasite” in the best international feature film category, plays more of a look back at a time than Subtitles meant extreme seriousness. Shot in a somber, desaturated palette, this Polish film, directed by Jan Komasa, deals with big questions of conscience and morals. The symbolism (a simple sawmill becomes a carpenter’s figure of Christ) is blunt; the drama is simple.
Inspired by real events, the film follows Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia), a prisoner who wants to enroll in a seminar. A chaplain tells him that he will not be admitted as an ex-prisoner. But after his release, Daniel plays addicted to his new job and wanders off to a nearby church where he claims to be a priest – and soon serves as a substitute.
Although Daniel has to learn spontaneously (he reads a confession guide on his smartphone), his relaxed preaching style never seems to give him away. It also resonates with residents of the small town, who mourn a car accident that killed seven people.
The idea that a charlatan could give more comfort than a real priest is a banal idea, but one that “Corpus Christi” portrays with conviction. The film rests on Bielenia’s shoulders – or rather in his eyes, which take photos as frosty gray.
Body of Christ
Not rated. In Polish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes.