In the Name of... Movie Review
An intriguing mixture of almost mythically stylised imagery and doc-style realism makes this deeply internalised Polish drama both engaging and urgent. The characters are so earthy that they feel like real people rather than actors. And the filmmaker's sensitive but unflinching approach forces us to think about big issues from a fresh perspective.
It's set in a rural village, where Father Adam (Chyra) quietly stands up to the entrenched bigotry and fear of his parishioners. Gently nudging them into a more accepting approach to things like mental and physical disability, Adam has a much more personal reason for trying to encourage tolerance: he's in an internal struggle against his own gay longings. And these feelings come to the surface when he befriends the simple, young Lukasz (Kosciukiewicz), who has been badly bullied by the rough-housing boys in the local reform-school. But when their relationship takes a romantic turn, Adam knows that he will need to move on.
Filmmaker Szumowska doesn't really bother to fill in the details of the plot, instead concentrating on the interaction between Adam and the people around him. These include the lonely Ewa (Ostaszewska), who flirts shamelessly with him, a teacher (Simlat) at the school and a young thug (Gajko) who confesses to being in love with his even more bullying classmate (Schuchardt). But the main focus is on Adam's internal war, as he tries to balance his strong faith with his physical yearnings.
This is a beautifully made film that gets deep under the surface without ever sacrificing gritty realism. It's also a very dark story that gets increasingly complex and challenging as it goes along. All of the actors are terrific, and Chyra's transparent performance helps us to vividly identify with Adam's situation here. The under-defined plot may sometimes annoy us, as the script skips past some key scenes. But we can't help but feel a gut-punch as Adam seeks a real connection with someone. So the film makes us want to seek out the loneliest person we know and give them a big hug.