About an hour into the documentary Twist of Faith, Tony Comes tells a dirty joke about priests and little boys. It's a crummy joke, and it's weird to watch him tell it - after all, he says he was molested by a priest when he was a teenager, as do the two men he's casually chatting with. But you want to laugh with them in sympathy -- the wisecracking obviously helps the men bond together and manage their grief. When the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal first came to light in 2002, stories about victims soon blurred together, making it difficult to comprehend the extent of the psychic damage. Kirby Dick's film is a powerful corrective, then: by providing an intimate portrait of the emotional struggle of a single victim, Twist clarifies just how damaging the abuse is, and how easily it can contaminate others' lives.
Dick has a remarkably articulate and self-aware subject in Comes. A firefighter in his early 30s living in Toledo, Ohio, with his wife and two kids, Comes speaks candidly about how the alleged molester, Dennis Gray, brought him and his classmates up to a cottage retreat, plied them with alcohol, and raped them. He recalls Gray's offhand comments about how Comes was the sort of guy who'd screw up a wet dream. "Was this part of some conditioning process?" he wonders. "It screws with you." He's also keenly attuned to the sad ironies that his past has created in his adult life, like the fact that his drive to his therapist's office requires him to pass his old church. His wife, Wendy, was forced to adjust as well; she explains how Comes' past history has forced them to change the way they act in the bedroom, and indeed brought a level of neurosis to nearly everything they do.
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