“The Club” Makes “Spotlight” Look Gentle
By Skip Sheffield
If you thought “Spotlight” shone a harsh light on the Catholic Church, “The Club” will shock and creep you out.
This is a Chilean film by Pablo Larrain set in a forlorn beach town called La Boca. Four disgraced priests and one nun live together in reflection and penance. They all have been removed from their priestly duties for offenses ranging from child abuse to baby-snatching.
It seems the sun never shines on “The Club.” Even in the middle of the day it is dark and dingy. The only excitement the group has is racing a rescued Greyhound dog called Rayo, trained by Padre Vidal (Alfredo Castro). The group is forbidden from mingling with townspeople and is only allowed to go into town from 6:30-7:30 a.m. and 8-9 p.m.
The predictable routine is disrupted with the arrival of a new ex-priest, Father Lazcano (Jose Soza). Lazcano does not have much to say, but a young fisherman named Sandokan (Roberto Farias) sure does. Sandokan plants himself outside the priests’ house and begins loudly and graphically reciting a litany of Father Lazcano’s abuse of him as an altar boy. This so rattles the elderly padre he shoots himself in the head with a pistol.
This crisis brings in from the Vatican a crisis counselor named Father Garcia (Marcelo Alonso). The priests fear Garcia will shut down the house for good.
Meanwhile we see a strange interlude with young Sandokan and the nun Sister Monica (Antonia Zegers, wife of the director).
The story is brought to a shocking and horrific conclusion and a resolution of sorts.
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,” the priests recite. I am not totally convinced.