In The Name Of
directed by Malgoska Szumowska
starring Andrzej Chyra, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz, and Lukasz Simlat
We are somewhere in the backwoods of post-Soviet Poland. Father Adam (Chyra) works with troubled youth, and these youth aren’t just troubled mentally, they actively seek it out trouble. They all look twenty something; they drink, smoke pot, fight and harass the locals: they’re like a punk band without musical instruments. Adam’s the nice priest; the tough guy is Teacher Michal (Simlat), he looks like Vladimir Putin and treats the boys like the Ukraine. Frankly, he’s what the boys need, but there you have it – conflicted authority figures that the young can exploit. The boy go swimming one day and poor Luzack (Kosciukiewicz ) can’t swim and nearly drowns. Adam takes it on himself to teach the boy basic floatation, and now we reach the heart of the movie: Adam is struggling with his sexuality, and these boys are just what he’s drawn to. The issue becomes a crisis when lonely Ewa (Maja Ostaszewska) begins flirting with him. She’s no beauty, but she’s available and now a decision point looms: stay a priest or be happy. Or maybe both.
Beautifully shot in the woods and meadows of Central Europe, this slow and dreamy story brings back the careful film making of the French New Wave. The characters are all down played, they are real people with something to hide, decisions unfinished, and future destinies muddy and cloudy. Adam seems lost in his own sins and unready to take on others while Michal is the tough old school coach whose only advice to a broken bone is “Shake it off and gat back in the game.” Old Soviet toughness meets modern western contemplation – this is a troubled movie for troubled days.