Pablo Larraín's latest release, The Club, has been the recipient of a variety of awards including the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, Best Film at Fantastic Fest, Chile's official Academy Award submission for Best Foreign Language Film 2016. Diving into the secretive world of religious exile, Larraín investigates the shrouded lives of 4 men with existence-shattering pasts, whose futures are both stifled and protected by the Catholic Church.
These four priests, along with their care-taker, Hermana Mónica, live in seclusion in the small seaside town of La Boca, Chile, where they spend their days acting out a slew of both sacrilegious and holy activities. The laws of their outcast prevents most interaction with any of the townspeople, redirecting the men’s affection to training and betting on their beloved greyhound, Rayo.
The fathers, abandoned by the church, receive a newcomer to the house, a fellow priest who brings with him a forced realization that the home is not a retreat, but rather a prison. From the misty street, a man tortured by the past chants the sins of the club’s latest addition with a rhythmic sadness that demands the attention of all in the home, and further draws an investigation into the fathers’ pasts and reasons for their excommunication.
The film discusses the extent of tolerance and forgiveness among forgotten clergy members, as they are being submitted to the struggles of a man symbolizing the impact of their wrongs. This dynamic, as well as the involvement of an ongoing investigation, poses the question, do these priests have the right to forgive themselves for the sins they have committed – both emotionally, and legally – and, more importantly, do they even understand their exile?
The solemn beauty of La Boca’s rocky coast acts to hide the sins of many in its sea fog as it simultaneously questions the many ironies of faith. The graphic iteration of crimes well known in the Catholic church is justified by these exiled priests with the name of the same savior they claim to serve. Their repentance through seclusion is ultimately topped by living out their days face to face with the human embodiment of their crimes
The Club succeeds in pinpointing the art of excusing behavior with religion in a detailed and well researched representation of this hidden society. Not only does it act as a window into the secretive world of modern day clerical sin, it expertly explores the grave repercussions of a sad and mystifying establishment that has unapologetically bred repression. - Isabel Zayas
Miss Zayas is a student at Macaulay Honors College at The City College of New York and has written for The Odyssey. She is also a member of the nonprofit organization Engineers Without Borders USA and is an avid hiker.