Rating: R for nudity, language. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Run Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Blistering hot Gael García Bernal (“Y Tu Mama Tambien”) is the saving grace of this quasi-religious melting pot of a film that speaks to religious devotion, and corruption.
Amaro (Bernal) is a recently ordained priest.
Just 24-years old and still wet behind the ears, Amaro is dispatched to
a small parish church in
Love among the ruins isn’t all that’s simmering beneath the surface of this picturesque little village. Benito is on the take from the region’s most influential drug lord, accepting vast amounts of cash to aid in the construction of a new health clinic. The revolutionary Father Natalio (Damían Alcázar), a well-respected member of the diocese, is suspected of assisting guerilla troops in the highlands, and is ultimately condemned for his involvement.
There are a number of meaty issues to be explored here – the complexity of religious faith, the dilemmas inherent in forced celibacy, and the troubled relationship between the Church and its Faithful’s economic struggles. But what could have been a prickly morality tale is served up as an idiosyncratic soap-opera. Comic where it should be earnest, and somber where it should casually rest on its melodramatic laurels, “Amaro” has difficulty choosing, and maintaining, an even pitch.
I am not a religious being, but I’m offended at the notion of a 16-year old girl, bound by her obedience to God, falling for and abruptly bedding her priest. Bernal (a proud member of my 2001 hunks list) manages to rise above the shenanigans with a savvy that belies his tender age. Cheesy, hyper-dramatic conclusion can be spotted a mile off, a bitter payoff for two hours of effort.