Corpus Christi (English title) Boże Ciało (Polish title)
★★★★1/2 Letterboxd Score
Direction by: Jan Komasa
Starring: Bartosz Bielenia, Eliza Rycembel, Aleksandra Konieczna
Film Movement In Theatres February 19th, 2020
The subject matter that “Corpus Christi” addresses is nothing new. For generations, we’ve been asking the same questions; What makes an individual close to god? What gives ordination to a priest, or any clergyman for that matter? Why does god decide to take those we love so much? All these questions are set in place and give to the plot of “Corpus Christi” an unabashedly catholic centric movie not without vices.
We begin with Daniel. A 20-year-old boy essential, that is serving time in a youth detention center for—for god knows what. While spending his time in this detention center he fanatically embraces its catholic principals that are force taught to all the young men in the detention center. With this newfound love for god and the catholic church, Daniel decides he wants to become a priest but is quickly put in his place when he is told that absolutely no seminary would take a convict. He quickly slips back into his old habits when he is released, drugs, sex, and rock and roll, but in his case, it is actually hardcore euro techno instead of rock and roll. As a part of his conditions of release, he makes his way to a sawmill, located in a tiniest polish village.
When he eventually arrives at the small village, he is confronted with his future and is hesitant to start his reformed life working—or slaving away in a sawmill. So he walks into the main part of town and comforts himself with the only thing he trusts, the church. Daniel enters the church just as mass is excused. It’s just him and another member of the congregation in the pews. This is where Daniel is accosted with the opportunity to become the man he wants to become or continue the ill-fated future of sanding wooden planks. The member that he is sitting in the pews with is Eliza (Eliza Rycembel). She quickly assumes that he is just another lowlife coming to work in the sawmill, but Daniel passionately responds that he is the new priest. She excuses herself and introduces Daniel to the clergy. From this moment on, this sets Daniel off into a string of lies and deception to maintain his perception in the public eye.
However, Daniel does better than he thought he would be at pretending to be a priest. He certainly leaves his mark on the townspeople, helping them cope with the events of a tragedy that took place just before his arrival. All this begs the question though; What qualifies a man to be inspired by god, despite not holding any worldly certification? It was quite obvious that Daniel was doing good for the community, despite not having been certified to hold the position of priest. He was able to change the hearts of the people and inspire positivity. So what wrong is he doing? How is no man able to provide that unmerited mercy to a man who seeks the kingdom of god?
If you are put off by religion, then yes you might not like this film so much. It really is not really quite a religious film, but it touches on the idea of mercy and religious tolerance. It is easy to say that god inspires us to do good, but difficult to imagine that someone who is repented to be accepted as a leader by those who share his beliefs. Maybe it is that individual who is most qualified. Give “Corpus Christi” a chance, you will not be disappointed. It is provocative and unhinged. It is beautiful. You could take any scene from this movie and turn it into a piece of art. The last five minutes of “Corpus Christi” is a charge of anxiety, it ends so poetically and unexpectedly satisfies. As an American, I think you would be shocked by its contents and it might just change your perspective on how we see each other.