The Club, review: ‘Film about Catholic priests is full of graphic sex talk’

A scene from The Club

A scene from The Club - Credit: Archant

It’s a film about Catholic priests so, as you’d expect, it’s full of graphic sex talk.

Larrain’s film centres on a nondescript house for naughty priests set on a drab, perpetually overcast piece of Chilean coastline. Four of them live there unannounced, under the watchful guard of a nun (Zegers), training up their greyhound. We don’t know exactly what they’ve done – but we know what they’ve done; unlike the locals who are left in the dark about who is living amongst them.

The thing about the sex talk is that it is graphic enough to earn the film an 18 certificate all on its own. When a new penitent comes to live with them, he is followed by the embodiment of all sins, Sandokan (Farías), a man whose life has been defined by the abuse he has suffered. The scenes where he outlines what was done to him are the most powerful in the film, a rare example in the cinema where tell works better than show.

Each of them is indignant that they have been condemned to this house of penitence. The film is great at exposing the justification fantasies they build around themselves. As the drama progresses the tension lies is wondering how severe director Larrain’s judgment will be – is he going to damn the entire institution as well as these self deluding individuals, or is he going to allow chinks of redemption? He is certainly firm in his desire to make sure that every single shot in the film is as bleak and drab as possible; to draw a grey veil over these people.

Rating: 3/5 stars.

the club (18) Director: Pablo Larrain Starring: Roberto Farías, Antonia Zegers, Alfredo Castro, Marcel Alonso, Jamie Vadell and Alejandro Goi Film Length: 97 mins