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By the Grace of God

Grace à Dieu

In one of his (seemingly) most straightforward but finest films yet, François Ozon deals very movingly with a real-life case of multiple child abuse.

Dir-Scr François Ozon
Prod Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
With Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet, Swann Arlaud
France
2019
137min
UK Distribution Curzon
With English subtitles

When Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud) learns that the priest who assaulted him decades ago at a scouts’ camp still works with young people, he tells his family what happened and seeks out other victims so that the Church will take action. Even as others are persuaded to speak out, however, the Catholic establishment starts dragging its feet. Meticulously chronicling events with a linear narrative that boldly switches protagonists in order to explore different aspects of French society, experience and attitude, Ozon creates a powerful, quietly polemical drama that reveals both the enduring consequences of child abuse and the complacent complicity of the Church. Terrific performances – particularly from Poupaud, Ménochet and, as the ageing offender, Bernard Verley – and nuanced direction won it the Berlinale’s Grand Jury Prize.

Geoff Andrew

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