Dominik Moll / Spain/France / 2011 / 101 mins
As many Catholics continue to battle against same-sex marriage, Boris Johnson’s recent decision not to adorn any London transport with their homophobic propaganda is yet another sign of the Church’s diminishing power. Exploring a period when religion represented dominant rule, Dominik Moll’s romantic thriller portrays Ambrosio’s (Vincent Cassel) internal adjudication between good and evil.
Cassel’s intensely pacing and domineering Ambrosio is as engrossing with his words as with his actions, with lingering, zooming fades of his face balanced against rousing oratory from the pulpit. There’s a smattering of philosophical discourse, particularly between Ambrosio and Valerio, that begins to blend an existential layer with the love story. But the romance narrative stifles the pensive dialogue on religious ambiguities, evoked by the repeated allusions to the supernatural. The prospect of realism prevents this from becoming a hammy ghost story, with the frequent shots of birds becoming a tactful metaphor of the monk’s position in society, poised over everyone else, judging them (particularly emotive in the closing scene). The underlying theme of retribution is clearly demonstrated, but frustratingly, the amorous additions and a bland substitution for the ideological speculations smother the film in clichéd outcomes.
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