Four men live in seclusion at the edge of a small, seaside town. Each sent into exile to repent their abhorrent sins under the care and observation of a younger, female warden who manages the imposed servitude with a degree of tranquility. When a fifth lodger is sent to stay at the cottage, the fragile existence of the residents is jeopardized, as their newly disgraced guest disrupts the harmony and dredges up their shameful pasts.
Tackling similar themes to Amy Berg’s documentary Deliver Us From Evil (2006) and Alex Gibney’s Mea Maxima Culpa (2012), The Club centers on a group of men ushered from their respective parishes and seemingly banished to the edge of the world by the Catholic Church. What follows is a morose, multi-layered series of events that delve into the root of the Church’s “hidden evils”. Each character lacks even a modicum of self-awareness with regards to their penance, their denial perfectly mirroring the actions of the Church they once served. There are some uneasy parallels drawn between the past wrongdoings of these men, where homosexuality and pedophilia are married in the eyes of the transgressors and the transgressed.
The act of violence that triggers the groups’ deterioration lacks any catharsis for the aggrieved, instead spurring both victim and residence of the seaside house into a poisonous entanglement. Sadly, the subtleties of this downward spiral lack a convincing enough gravity to warrant the evils in the final reel. Despite the fear, repression and sickly mindsets of the haunted characters, the diabolical climax doesn’t feel earned within the confines of the pacing.
On a technical level, there is beauty to be found in the solitudinous landscapes and natural, weatherworn town. Unfortunately, some of the more personal, revelatory scenes are mired with a degree of soft focus that borders on “out of focus”, which dulls the impact somewhat. The string score meanders between transcendent violins and a woefully somber cello, which is a little too, “on the nose” for a film that wallows languidly in the subtle and subdued.
Despite the powerful subject matter and substantial performances, The Club manages to say very little and offers even less.
THE CLUB directed by Pablo Larraín is in UK cinemas 25 March 2016 #TheClubFilm and there will be a Special Preview Screening and Panel Discussion aton Monday 21st March 6.20pm
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