Corpus Christi (‘Boze Cialo’)

DRAMA; 1hr 55min (Polish with subtitles)

STARRING: Bartosz Bielenia, Aleksandra, Konieczna

Sacred—profane: Bielenia

Fresh from doing time in a juvenile detention centre, Daniel (Bielenia) has an angular, angelic beauty whose intensity holds the screen and an outlier’s opaque attitude that rings instantaneous warning bells. At 20, he’s already a hardened survivor, albeit one with a paradoxical spiritual bent, drowning-pool eyes and a pure singing voice tailor-made for a Catholic Mass. And so, given the random chance of posing as a village priest — as opposed to a soulless job in its sawmill — he takes his chances with the holy road.


Shepherding the surly faithful would be a daunting prospect even for a real priest, but as Father Tomasz, Daniel’s fresh energy is a smash, packing out the church and warming the chilly cockles of parish housekeeper Lidia’s (Konieczna) suspicious heart. Father Tomasz is the renegade any hidebound institution could sorely use, unafraid to challenge, connect and let loose with healing emotions to villagers grieving over a car accident that killed six of their teenagers and ostracised the widow (Barbara Kurzaj) of the other driver. He’s a promise believers seek to keep. But between his shady past, his divisive actions and the brazen cheek of his deceit, the ground on which Daniel is posturing couldn’t be more shaky.


Director Jan Komasa’s ominous sliding scale is inexorable in a sad DNA of tension and resentment that circle the central, pressing question of how long Daniel can continue his outrageous charade. An ex-con impersonating a man of the cloth will never have Happy Ending plastered all over him, obviously, no matter how convincing he happens to be — and the crowning irony of Mateusz Pacewicz’s measured, fact-based screenplay is that Daniel does a rockstar-cool job. Father Tomasz is the realised, inspired version of himself that the force of his entrapping circumstances will never allow him to become.