By the Grace of God

Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
By the Grace of God

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Compassionate but forensic, François Ozon’s activist drama offers an elegant evisceration of paedophile priests and Vatican evasion.

A kind of #MeToo-inspired filmmaking movement is developing around paedophilia in the Catholic priesthood. While ‘The Club’ showed the priests’ perspective and ‘Spotlight’ gave us a journalist’s point of view, François Ozon focuses on the victims in this compassionate drama. It offers an interconnecting triptych of viewpoints on a true-life case from mid-2010s Lyon – and it’s impossible to be unmoved by the story it’s telling.

The perspectives belong to three men abused by the same priest. Affluent family man Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud) doggedly pursues him right into the church’s maze of phoney procedure and Kafkaesque maneouvring; bullish François (Denis Ménochet) channels his pain into campaigning; and fragile Emmanuel (Swann Arlaud) is stuck in a toxic relationship. The performances contrast nicely, with Arlaud the standout as a man who has just never recovered.

Sexuality – in all its manifestations – flows through Ozon’s work, and here he delves into its darkest corners. There’s no grandstanding; his interest is in showing how these vile acts can warp lives before they’ve even got started. There’s hope here too. A surrogate family of sorts blossoms between these people – women as well as men – trying to free themselves from the past. For the Vatican, there isn’t a rug big enough to sweep it all under. 


Release details

Release date:
Friday October 25 2019
137 mins

Cast and crew

François Ozon
François Ozon
Denis Ménochet
Swann Arlaud
Melvil Poupaud
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