*NOTE: This review is going to be a CAPSULE review, which means it’ll be a tight, quick critique of the film.
By the Grace of God is France’s version of Tom McCarthy’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight. The film looks priest molestation in France and the controversy surrounding it. Rather than looking a newspaper trying to uncover the crimes of the church, By the Grace of God focus’ more on the victims and how they have handled it throughout their lives. The result is a horrifying, devastating look at trauma, guilt, religion, and the power of the Catholic church.
By the Grace of God looks at three men who had been molested by the same priest when they were kids. However, the three of them each go in different ways when trying to reveal what happened to them. They have to think about their family, their public image, and the repercussions of going up against the Catholic church, which has endless power. It’s an interesting character piece to watch these three men desperate to reveal the truth, yet having to think about their wives, children, and reputation.
Director François Ozon’s direction is stellar. Though never quite the thriller that Spotlight is, this is a brutal drama that shows how frustrating and tough this process of trying to get these priests arrested and charge. The performances from all his actors are great and though a bit overlong, Ozon really hammers home the emotional center of the film, making us feel for all the victims.
By the Grace of God is a crushing look at an epidemic that still rages on today. This is a powerful look at priest molestation from the victim perspective. It isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s an important one.
By the Grace of God was part of the MASTERS section at the 55th Chicago International Film Festival.