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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
“Each of us is the priest of Christ,” a juvenile detention centre priest tells the members of his wayward flock, advice one of them takes very literally to heart in the Polish drama Corpus Christi.
That young man is Daniel, who leaves the correctional centre at age 20 after serving time for unnamed crimes. Having experienced a spiritual epiphany behind bars, he’d like to pursue a career in the clergy, which his mentor, Father Tomasz, tells him is impossible because he’s been a convict. But you can practically see the light bulb go on over Daniel’s head when he hears the priest’s powerful words, and rather than report for duty at the small-town sawmill where he has a job lined up, he walks into the Catholic church, kneels down in a pew and begins praying.
In no time, the same streetwise survival instincts that got him in trouble as a kid kick in, and he tells a young woman praying near him that he’s a priest—quite convincingly, actually. Soon he’s donning a clerical collar and agreeing to take over at the parish when the aging vicar becomes ill. Watching Daniel fake his way through his first meeting with the elder priest, you’ll find yourself holding your breath, hoping he’ll tell the right lies.
Daniel seems cognisant of the gravity his new job requires, but he also brazenly shakes things up in this insular place and forces people to face feelings they’d rather suppress. He thinks he’s doing the right thing for the greater good but eventually asserts himself further as he feels his influence grow, and puts himself in danger in the process. Corpus Christi is interested in exploring the potential grey areas of pious deeds, and doesn’t necessarily make the road to redemption a smooth one.