In Pablo Larrain's The Club, a group of disgraced Catholic priests live quietly in a halfway house overlooking La Boca's pristine coast. Under the watchful eye of a nun named Mónica (Antonia Zeggers), they go about a daily routine that's supposed to revolve around prayer and self reflection.
We don't see much of either. Instead, the men mostly roam the beach training a greyhound for upcoming races, drink heavily and chat about the good ol' days. Harkening from different areas throughout Chile, the priests have been exiled for various offenses involving sexual abuse. We are spared much of the details, but their guilt is certain.
Don't be fooled by the film's peaceful seaside setting: A sense of repressed rage resides in every hazy frame. The cost of this repression becomes apparent when a new occupant commits suicide minutes after arriving. The church sends a younger priest named Padre García (Marcelo Alonso) to investigate. He interviews each man, getting a better sense of how they have come to personify the church's suppression of responsibility.
For those new to Larrain's work, he makes rigorous and cold films about uncomfortable subject matter relating to his country's horrifying past. While The Club isn't quite as overtly political as Post Mortem or Tony Manero, two grotesque character studies that skewer the brutality of the Pinochet regime, it effectively pinpoints how denial can be institutionalized over long periods of time.
The plot also involves the arrival of a drunken drifter (Roberto FarÌas), who claims to have been victimized by one of the priests. His appearance, along with Padre García's, produces a scenario that forces the priests into a position where they can no longer deny the past.
Larrain's film, which opens Friday, Feb. 19, reveals them to be the kind of cockroaches that are experts at scurrying away from responsibility and true penance.
Aferim!: A father and his son go in search of a runaway in this Romanian period piece by director Radu Jude. Screens through Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
All Roads Lead to Rome: Sarah Jessica Parker plays an uptight single mother who is surprised to meet an old flame while visiting Rome. Screens through Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong: Two people meet cute in Honk Kong and spend the day roaming the vast city. Screens through Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Race: The legendary story of Olympic runner Jesse Owens, who won gold performing in front of Adolf Hitler, gets the big-screen treatment.
Risen: The Biblical story of the Resurrection is told through the eyes of a non-believing Roman tribune played by Joseph Fiennes.
The Club: Pablo Larrain’s bleak drama tells the story of disgraced priests who’ve been exiled to the Chilean coast after having committed sexual abuse against children.
The Witch: After being ex-communicated from their New England community, a Pilgrim family tries to live off the land only to become the victim of an evil witch.
Touched With Fire: Two manic-depressives meet in a psychiatric hospital and begin a tumultuous relationship.
One Time Only
Dirty Dancing: Nobody puts Baby in a corner. Not even The Swayze. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Steve Jobs: Michael Fassbender embodies the famously ornery Apple founder during three pivotal moments in his career. Screens at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20 at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Ganja & Hess: After being stabbed by ancient knife, a man finds himself driven by an insatiable desire for blood. American Psycho: Christian Bale plays a Wall Street yuppie with an affinity for expensive things and murder. This double feature screens at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
Bone Tomahawk: A sheriff (Kurt Russell) and his deputy (Richard Jenkins) gather a posse to rescue a kidnapped woman from a savage group of cave dwellers. Screens at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Look of Silence: A family grieves over the death of their son by watching interviews with his killers, government supported executioners that murdered thousands during the Indonesian genocide of 1965. Screens at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Theatre at SDSU. Director Joshua Oppenheimer will attend in person.
Love Actually: Take your honey to see the ultimate Valentine’s Day movie. Or just tell them how much you love them yourself. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.