In the Name Of (W Imie)
In Polish with English subtitles.
The Catholic Church has long been overshadowed by accusations of sexual abuse and pedophilia, and it’s hard not to think of those claims when watching In the Name Of (W Imie). The 90-minute film by Poland’s Malgorzata Szumowska carefully explores this issue from the inside out: a priest grappling with his own sexuality while mentoring teens at a rural centre for orphaned boys.
Priest Adam (played by Andrzej Chyra) oversees the orphanage, where days of prayer and general hard labour flow from one into the next. It’s undeniable that the boys who live there are downright bullies—fists always eager to pick a fight, mouths that never break from cursing, faces hardened by abandonment. Their confrontational attitudes only heighten Adam’s gentle, nurturing behaviour. It’s hard to dislike this priest, even if what he’s about to do is wrong.
Adam’s repressed desires are awakened when Lukasz (who is affectionately called “Humpty”) is dropped off one day. The troubled boy with a history of arson isn’t quite like his peers, and it’s clear early on that Adam’s lust towards Lukasz is returned. Swimming together in a lake and a game of hide-and-seek in a cornfield are just foreplay for what’s to come.
The plot takes a pivotal turn when Adam encounters two of the orphans having sex. Not knowing what to do with his own desires, the priest turns to his past as an alcoholic. In one memorable scene, an intoxicated Adam knocks over a wall-hanging portrait of the pope and proceeds to dance with it, holding the picture up to his face. The irony can’t be ignored.
While the topic his dark and heavy, it’s hard not to get caught up in the beauty of Michal Englert’s sun-drenched cinematography coupled with moving music by Pawel Mykietyn and Adam Walicki. You might find yourself cheering for Adam and Lukasz to get together, which may ultimately cause you to question your own morals.
In the Name Of (W Imie) screens at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, at Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas on Saturday (August 17) at 7 p.m. and August 24 at 4 p.m.