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Priest (1994)

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A homosexual Catholic priest finds out during confessional that a young girl is being sexually abused by her father, and has to decide how to deal with both that secret and his own.

Director:

Antonia Bird

Writer:

Jimmy McGovern
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4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Linus Roache ... Father Greg Pilkington
Tom Wilkinson ... Father Matthew Thomas
Robert Carlyle ... Graham
Cathy Tyson ... Maria Kerrigan
Lesley Sharp ... Mrs. Unsworth
Robert Pugh ... Mr. Unsworth
James Ellis James Ellis ... Father Ellerton
Christine Tremarco Christine Tremarco ... Lisa Unsworth
Paul Barber ... Charlie
Rio Fanning Rio Fanning ... Bishop
Jim R. Coleman Jim R. Coleman ... Funeral director
Bill Dean ... Altar boy
Gilly Coman Gilly Coman ... Ellie Molloy
Fred Pearson ... Patrick
Jimmy Gallagher Jimmy Gallagher ... Mick Molloy
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Storyline

Father Greg Pilkington (Linus Roache) is torn between his call as a conservative Catholic priest and his secret life as a homosexual with a gay lover, frowned upon by the Church. Upon hearing the confession of a young girl of her incestuous father, Greg enters an intensely emotional spiritual struggle deciding between choosing morals over religion and one life over another. Written by Eric Chor <spiritcircle@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One man is about to challenge two thousand years of tradition. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for depiction of mature themes involving sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 March 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Actos privados See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$4,176,932
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR | Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Antonia Bird was forced to cut a whole scene of Linus Roache's bare behind to ensure only an R rating in the USA, instead of a notorious NC-17. See more »

Goofs

Father Greg holds up a communion wafer which is smooth. The scene cuts to Graham and then back to Father Greg, and the wafer has a diagonal line across it. See more »

Quotes

Father Greg Pilkington: When we were in seminary, it was a sort of standard question: a man tells you in confession that he's poisoned the altar wine. Do you still go out and say Mass? Now, I had no problem with that: I'd go out and say Mass, drink the wine. There's a bit of the martyr in all of us.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The US version has been cut by seven minutes. See more »

Connections

Featured in Screen Two: Priest (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

GREEN GREEN GRASS OF HOME
Composed by Curly Putman
Performed by Tom Wilkinson
Copyright Tree International
by kind permission of Burlington Music Co. Ltd./Warner Chappell Music Ltd.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Stirring, controversial, well-acted religious pot-boiler - still, a mixed blessing.
11 April 2001 | by gbrumburghSee all my reviews

From the symbolic introductory scene of "Priest" wherein an old, weary-looking priest yanks a huge crucifix from the church altar, proceeds to carry it through the streets of his impoverished town as if he were Jesus himself, and proceed to bash through the door of his presbytery, you know you're in for something different - stimulating, controversial, thought-provoking. "Priest" is VERY MUCH that movie.

The old priest's clerical replacement comes in the form of Father Greg (Linus Roache, in a star-making role), a young, fair-haired, boyishly handsome visionary who, with typically youthful verve, strives to bring the Catholic Church directly to the people (well, to the Catholics, anyway), and receives his actions with decidedly mixed feelings. The older priest still in residence, Father Matthew (the excellent Tom Wilkinson), who has long settled into amiable apathy, inclines toward drink while maintaining a relatively clandestine relationship with his black, attractively careworn housekeeper (the underused Cathy Tyson). There is initial friction as the Old and New Worlds collide. Father Matthew dismisses Father Greg's modernistic sermons, while Father Greg frowns upon Father Matthew's casual stance on papal celibacy. Eventually, we learn Father Greg has his own difficulty with celibacy...but with other men.

As the story proceeds, we are drawn into the emotional and moral struggles of Father Greg as he wrestles not only with his own social and spiritual ethics, but those of his parish. In one particularly chilling confessional scene, a male member of the parish practically flaunts his sexual desires while "justifying" his incestuous advances toward his teenage daughter.

"Priest" is an important, ambitious project and yields emotional power in its depiction of moral adversity. But it's a mixed blessing. Some of the scenes come off overbaked and melodramatic, while the resolution of the piece should be more powerful and less compromising; instead it comes off manufactured and unrealistic, hurting its overall impact.

In fairness, "Priest" does bring out the hypocrisy in both priests, as well as the parish. Nobody comes off saintly here, just flawed and human. An interesting bi-note is that there have been no comments in the fact that the elder priest is having a sexual relationship with a BLACK housekeeper. Forty years ago, according to religious purists, the Bible interpreted ethnically mixed relationships and marriages as abominations as well. At least some headway HAS been made.

Is "Priest" anti-Catholic in its message? To an extent, yes. The Catholic's Church's unyielding, unprogressive, medieval doctrines are brought to task here, never more pointedly than in the scene where Father Greg, agonizing over whether to prevent the continued sexual abuse of the young girl and report the father to authorities, or respect the confidentiality of the confessional and remain silent, reluctantly chooses the latter.

While I deem this movie to be a stronger platform for social tolerance, `Priest' still drums home beautifully the message that organized religion is still used as a tool to govern instead of instill moral standards, particularly in other countries, and as a persecutive weapon against certain sectors of society that do not conform to those rigid standards. As a consequence, the Church has provided a comforting harbor and hazardous safety zone for certain "acceptable" bigotries.

We need more brave, topical films like "Priest" to confront such important social issues and display them front-and-center.


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