W imie… [In the Name of] (2013)

W imie
Director: Malgorzata Szumowska
Writer: Malgorzata Szumowska, Michal Englert, Szczepan Twardoch
Cast: Andrzej Chyra, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, Maja Ostaszewska, Lukasz Simlat, Tomasz Schuchardt, Maria Maj, Kamil Adamowicz, Mateusz Gajko, Jakub Gentek, Daniel Swiderski
Seen on: 29.3.2021

Content Note: dubious consent, (critical treatment of) homomisia, antisemitism

Plot:
Adam (Andrzej Chyra) is a priest in a small town. Together with the teacher Michal (Lukasz Simlat), he spends most of his time trying to reign in the delinquent boys and young men they have to take care of in a mix of foster care and detention center. But Adam also struggles with his own homosexuality. He hoped that turning to religion will give him some relief, but when he is faced with the troubled Lukasz (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz), his usual methods of suppression start failing.

W imie… treads familiar ground with its story. It’s not badly made, but it wouldn’t have hurt to give the topic a fresher spin.

The film poster showing Adam (Andrzej Chyra) in priest's robes, a painting of a saint vaguely in the background.

Homosexuality and the church is a loaded issue, no doubt about. With the recent statements from the pope about it, it is clear that the discussion is far from over. But it would be nice if, at least in our fiction, we would find a different angle to tell stories about it than just the utter desperation we find here.

There are moments of true connection between Adam and Lukasz, but they feel much flatter than the rest of the film and therefore take a backseat to the constant onslaught of unhappiness that pretty much everybody finds themselves in. It also didn’t sit right with me that Adam insists that he is not a pedophile, just gay, but at the same time Lukasz is not only much younger than he is, he is also responsible for him which gives the relationship a lopsided feel that didn’t help with me (or them) finding some solace with their love. There is also another gay pairing in the film that ends very badly indeed and left it uncomfortably unclear for me whether things were actually consensual between the two.

Adam (Andrzej Chyra) and Michal (Lukasz Simlat) having lunch with the boys they supervise.

The ending was also questionable for me. At the end we see Lukasz deciding to become a priest himself and that felt a bit like a “gotcha moment” – look at all those gay priests! – that felt entirely at odds with the film that came before it.

That being said, the film is not a bad watch and Chyra is fantastic, an absolutely magnetic presence. I loved watching him bring Adam and Adam’s pain to life. For him alone, the film would be worth it. But the film does have more to offer than just this excellent performance, even if it isn’t perfect.

Adam (Andrzej Chyra) lying sweat-soaked in bed.

Summarizing: good.

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