mon 26/10/2020

DVD: In the Name of | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: In the Name of

DVD: In the Name of

Gay themes tackled impressively in Polish Catholic context

Religious imagery is strong in Malgoska Szumowska’s 'In the Name of'

Gay cinema in Poland is emerging slowly, for understandable reasons, which makes Malgoska Szumowska’s accomplished, if somewhat traditional drama In the Name of something of a ground-breaker. Not least because its story is centred around the country’s most established institution, the Catholic church, putting the subject of homosexuality squarely into the national debate.

Gay cinema in Poland is emerging slowly, for understandable reasons, which makes Malgoska Szumowska’s accomplished, if somewhat traditional drama In the Name of something of a ground-breaker. Not least because its story is centred around the country’s most established institution, the Catholic church, putting the subject of homosexuality squarely into the national debate. Interestingly, and encouragingly, the film topped local box office results for its opening weekend last autumn.

It has a very different setting from the more sophisticated urban milieu of last year’s other gay film from Poland, Floating Skyscrapers. Szumowska’s central figure is Father Adam (Polish star Andrzej Chyra), who’s working in a rough rural parish, involved particularly in helping young men who have fallen off the tracks to get back onto them (life in the community, below right).

When a local youth, Lukasz (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz), appears on the edges of the group, the desire he arouses in the priest threatens to destabilize the whole environment; Lukasz clearly has problems of his own, which require the priest’s pastoral care too (Chyra and Kosciukiewicz, main picture). A subplot that appears at the half way point involving sexual tensions among Father Adam’s charges reinforces the gay theme, with tragic consequences. Despite that, the film closes on an optimistic note, even if it’s one which western viewers may see as tinged with a certain compromise.

Szumowska has insisted that her story is about love rather than workings of the church, though she’s taken an unflinching perspective on that institution. It’s an emotionally honest film, which also captures unsparingly (though with final empathy) the countryside world in which it’s set  in lensing by Michal Englert, who also co-wrote the script.

The DVD extras include an interview with Szumowska, simply made but allowing her to put across (in English, with impressive clarity) her views on the film and on the general context in which she made it, in relation both to gay issues and to the church. The other bonus is the director’s student documentary short, Silence, from 1998, also shot by Englert. Its almost wordless ten minutes are grounded in a very naturalistic sense of life lived close to nature, and it casts interesting light on the origins of Szumowska’s style as we see it in developed form in her feature film.

Its story is centred around the country’s most established institution, the Catholic church, putting the subject of homosexuality squarely into the national debate

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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