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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Corpus Christi

One of the Oscar nominees for International Film, and quite wonderful.  Like, even if I hadn't known Parasite was going to win the actual Best Picture prize, I'd have been rooting for Corpus Christi three weeks ago had I caught up with it before the Oscar ceremony.

If you're going to do a melodrama, why not go all in!

Start with a lead character who's getting parole from a violet juvie prison to work at a saw mill out in the countryside. Only, the parole thing -- they haven't made any arrangements for room & board, so have the lead character to to a church to hang out after work.

Having left the prison swearing to arrive sober at the saw mill, have him go a wild night before bender and take a priest's collared shirt from one of the other partiers. Have him joke with an attractive teenage girl at the church, end up taking out the shirt to back up his joking boast about being a priest, and then Dear Evan Hansen style the deception just keeps going and going.

Not only is there no arrangement for room & board, there's no attendance check that he's actually at the saw mill.

Oh, also, a local priest who needs to head out of town on the down low for some medical tests/treatment and doesn't want any of his loyal parishioners to know.

The town bulletin board has tacked onto it the faces of six local kids who died in a car accident several months ago. All in one car, and crashed into (or did they crash into) by the car of a man whose wife is on the outskirts of town in more ways than one.

You've got love, religion, power struggles, town secrets -- all sorts of stuff, and I'm kind of making fun of it because the movie piles it on, piles it on some more, and then manages to pile even more on when you think the movie should already be falling over from the weight of all that melodrama.

But the movie plays all of this for real pathos, asks real questions about mercy, power, justice, the day-to-day uncertainties of human existence, about compassion and rehabilitation and faith. Or is it the other way around? Is the film ultimately mocking all of the important stuff by surrounding it with volcanic preposterousness?

In the lead role, Bartosz Bielenia is absolutely brilliant, and very much a name and face to watch. And what a face. I don't know what his English is like, but on looks and charisma and expressiveness Bielenia's ready to step into stardom. He manages to pull this off, up until an ending that would have worked just as well in a slightly more Grand Guignol version of First Reformed, and an epilogue that takes the movie -- well, I've absolutely no idea where the lead character's gong at the end, and strangely, I don't care.

Highly recommended.