Like Father, Like Hell

Mexican priests make it hurt so good in El Crimen del Padre Amaro

It is the essential sexiness of holy archetypes that stirs up a ruckus in Carlos Carrera's competent if unremarkable tragedy, adapted by screenwriter Vicente Lenero from the 1875 book by Portuguese author Jose Maria Eça de Queiroz. We first meet our young, present-day hero (and anti-hero) Padre Amaro (Mexican superstar Gael García Bernal, of Amores Perros and Y Tu Mamá También) en route to his new parish in Los Reyes, Mexico, and before you can say "the body of Christ" he has excited the passions of deeply spiritual teen-ager Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón). On hand for controversy are the somewhat dirty local men of the cloth (Sancho Gracia, Damian Alcazar, Gomez Cruz), some rabid Catholic-baiters (Gastón Melo, Andrés Montiel) and a whacked old crone (show-stealing Luisa Huertes). The film is prompting protests from Catholics who deem it blasphemous, but the simple fact is that it happens to exploit a few volatile symbols (offertory wafers, the Virgin of Guadalupe) while exposing the dangers of both patriarchal religion and hypocrisy.

 
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