Published Dec 01, 2002Remember when you were a kid and you had to go to Sunday school? Remember the complete and utter sense of boredom you felt? El Crimen Del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro) does an astonishing job of replicating that feeling.
Based on the 19th century novel by Jose Maria Eca de Queiroz, EL Crimen Del Padre Amaro is less a film and more an indictment of the Catholic Church. Gael Garcia Bernal stars as the titular Father Amaro, an idealistic young priest who arrives at a small village fresh out of the seminary. Though everything initially seems fine, he soon discovers that virtually every fellow priest is involved in something immoral (from laundering money to helping guerrillas). Amaro's own faith is put to the test when he finds himself falling in love with a local girl named Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancon), a relationship that eventually goes way outside the bounds of his priestly oath.
El Crimen Del Padre Amaro's greatest fault isn't that it has a political agenda, but that it allows that agenda to interfere with the story; the outrage felt by the filmmakers has prevented them from creating a movie that's first and foremost an entertaining one. There are subplots aplenty here, but nothing feels organic, as everything seems to have been added to serve the film's message, including the unnecessarily melodramatic relationship between Amaro and Amelia. EL Crimen Del Padre Amaro would likely be most effective if used as a tool to rally anti-Catholic protestors.