Faith and family at the Outtakes Film Festival.
Winner of the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival Teddy Award, In the Name Of… is a moody, evocative account of sexual repression in rural Poland. It tells the tale of Catholic priest Adam (Andrzej Chyra), who moves to a small town to work with troubled youths. While he is a success in his job, he also finds himself attracted to a taciturn farmer, and the conflict between his church duties and his passion forms the backbone of the film. The depiction of the tension between faith and earthly pleasures is arguably the least interesting part of the film, and perhaps is a little oblique for those outside of the explicitly Catholic setting, though Szumowska wisely avoids obvious symbolism and keeps the overall mood simmering, rather than melodramatic.
What is more successful is the interplay between desire and small town ennui, and the barely concealed frustrations that threaten to spill over into petty violence. Adam’s passion not only threatens his job, but also cuts through the accepted conformist codes of the town. The machismo of the boys and the hypocrisy of the church folk get a blasting, and the ultimate frustration is Adam’s inability to live his life within these sinister confines set up by the Church and by his flock’s conservatism. The film is gorgeously shot and a definite big-screen picture; the composition and use of light (particularly the magic hour shots) have an almost fragile look, as if the emotions suppressed by the characters are matched by the transience of the day.
* * *
Rosie is a lighter tale, albeit with similar undertones of repression and wasted potential. Berlin-based writer Lorenz Meran (Fabian Krüger), whose career has taken a turn for the mediocre, finds himself back in his home village in Switzerland after his mother (the titular character, played with gusto by Sibylle Brunner) suffers a stroke. She is irascible: refusing to give up the cigarettes or the plonk, refusing to accept help, and chattering away to people Meran views as miscreants.
The film is delineated seasonally and via ‘driving breaks’ through the countryside, and it’s clear that as the time passes, and as the characters reach their ‘twilight’ (emotionally, relationship-wise, or physically), it’s clear that the person most at risk is Lorenz himself. Lorenz is the troubled one: he runs away from turning a one-night stand with a younger fan (Sebastian Ledesma) into a more meaningful relationship, is snarky to his sister, and continues to get exacerbated by Rosie’s hard-living ways. Rosie on the other hand is far more comfortable with the past, and is willing to make a go of it in the future (admittedly, with the help of a drink or two). It’s the old tale of a cynic opening himself up to the world, but it’s engagingly performed, subtly told family melodrama.