Pablo Larraín’s The Club formed an interesting follow-up to his astonishing trilogy on Pinochet’s repressive regime (Tony Manero, Post Mortem, No) – in that, its thematic departure aside, it too served as an indictment of Chile’s dark and complicated politico-religious milieu. Stark, intense, seething with anger and deeply disturbing, this is a lashing portrayal of the brazen and serial culpability – right from perpetuation to denial and cover-ups of grotesque crimes – of organized religion in general, and the Catholic church in particular; suffice it to say, the movie wouldn’t have earned any brownie points from either the establishment or the ardent faithfuls. The events take place in a cloistered place located in a remote coastal town – essentially a comfortable but secluded place off the official maps – housing priests accused of monstrous crimes like pedophilia, child trafficking, etc. and hence temporarily banished from regular duties in order to undergo faux penance. Four such retired priests (Alfredo Castro et al) live there, taken care of by a creepy former nun (Antonia Zegers), watching TV, drinking wine and training their grayhound for dog races. Their cocooned and largely tranquil existences are punctuated by three developments – suicide of a new arrival accused of child abuse, arrival of an emissary (Marcelo Alonso) to investigate the scenario, and their being hounded by a severely damaged sexual abuse victim (Roberto Farías). The blistering and topical subject, the grim portrayals – their stunning sense of entitlement, refusal to even acknowledge the consequences of their deeds, the compromises made, etc. – the somber and moody atmosphere, excellent performances, and an especially brutal sequence involving dogs near the end, made this more than just another pedantic film, despite its in-your-face stance at times.
Director: Pablo Larrain
Genre: Drama/Religious Drama/Psychological Drama