"In the Name Of..." Reviews
After the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival world premiere of Małgorzata Szumowska’s W imię… (In the Name Of…), co-financed by the Polish Film Institute, the media in Poland and abroad featured a number of positive reviews of this Polish film that screened in Main Competition.
“I finally see a Polish woman director who actively promotes her film, has a great relationship with festival representatives and press agents, and makes a strong, lively and interesting appearance at the press conference. She speaks English fluently. Her feature In the Name Of… was the highlight of the first days in the Main Competition screenings,” writes Krzysztof Kwiatkowski in Wprost.
“In the first days [of the festival], no other film made an impression as strong as Małgorzata Szumowska’s In the Name Of… […] directed with great sensibility, […] able to discuss emotions in very delicate ways […],” writes Barbara Hollender of Rzeczpospolita in her Berlinale coverage.
“We have seen the latest films by American director Gus Van Sant and Austrian director Ulrich Seidl. But after three days of this year’s Berlin film festival, Małgorzata Szumowska’s In the Name Of… remains the most interesting film in Main Competition,” writes Gazeta Wyborcza’s Tadeusz Sobolewski in his article ‘Berlin Festival: A Priest, a Lolita, and a Russian sheriff’.
Unusual Approach to the Subject Matter
Joseph Walsh of Grolsch Film Works praises Małgorzata Szumowska for her unusual approach to the issues addressed in her film. As he states, In the Name Of… “should be appreciated for the approach the director has brought to the subject matter. […] Perhaps the best quality of Szumowska’s brave and engaging drama is the way she has diverted attention away from the often documented accounts of paedophile priests to focus on a dramatically intriguing idea still concerning the catholic Church – what if a man is slave to two masters: God and his sexuality?”
“Undeterred Malgoska Szumowska, director of W imię… (In the Name Of…) broaches with a carefully constructed, simple yet powerful film that explores the repressed sexual identity of Adam (Andrzej Chyra) […],” writes Ben Jones on the Peanut Butter Thoughts website.
In his blog review, Toby King states that In the Name Of… is “a real clever character study, that’s honest, endearing and emotional, which doesn’t make any stand on the rights or wrongs of any institution or perceptions of sexuality, it focuses on the people and what they are going through as individuals and how they act to each other.”
According to Anna Bielak, the reviewer for Interia.pl, Szumowska brings a very real problem to the public’s attention. She examines it from an interesting perspective and notices the authentic feel of certain emotions.
The Charisma of Andrzej Chyra
In his review for Screen Daily, Jonathan Romney praises the performance of Andrzej Chyra, who played the lead role in In the Name Of…: “A strong lead by Andrzej Chyra gives this thoughtful, well-textured film its magnetic centre […]. Chyra is a charismatically moody actor, conveying a tangible sense of emotional and spiritual depth beneath a grizzled saturnine exterior […].”
In her review for The Hollywood Reporter, Deborah Young writes: “Gay priests hardly raise an eyebrow anymore in Western films, but it is rare that their sexual angst is portrayed as sensitively as in Poland’s Berlin competition entry In the Name Of…, which hovers in an interesting middle ground between Gothic expressionism and psychological drama, heightened by a fine cast and outstanding performances. […] Chyra never stumbles in his tough but engaging portrait of a sincerely devout priest with human failings, establishing a close bond with the viewer from the first scenes.”
In a review by Bénédict Prot for Cineuropa, it is said that: “The most interesting, and the most touching, aspect of the film is well and truly this character with limpid, azure-blue eyes and expressions of ineffable goodness, embodied by Andrzej Chyra.”
Małgorzata Sadowska’s review for the Stopklatka website states that it is impossible to overlook the extraordinary performance by Andrzej Chyra; his magnetic pull on-screen matches exactly the expected perception of a ‘cool’ and charismatic priest who harbours an inner breakdown behind a facade of enthusiasm.
In her review for Interia.pl, Anna Bielak draws attention to the excellent casting of the film: “Szumowska did a great job of casting all the parts. The boys are authentic, their language natural, their faces unposed. The only poser among them is Adrian (a fantastic performance by Tomasz Schuchardt), a young man who is a late-comer to the group, and Ewa (Maja Ostaszewska), a thirty-year-old local woman who is bored with her marriage and secretly dreams of a scandalous affair with the parish priest.
Energetic Lensing by Michał Englert
“In the Name Of… is beautifully shot through a haze of warm sunsets and glistening skies, evoking the majesty of creation, in a way that perfectly reflects it spiritual backdrop,” writes Patrick Gamble in his review of In the Name Of… for Cine Vue.
“Along with the enigmatic Kościukiewicz, Tomasz Schuchardt’s devilish ‘Blondie’ stands out of the rowdy pack of young men testing their limits, filmed in uncomfortable close-up by a restlessly swishing camera. Cinematographer Michal Englert’s out-of-doors lighting is arresting in its depiction of a forest of trees taller than any cathedral; it’s not surprising Father Adam calls his morning jog ‘praying’,” states Deborah Young in her review for The Hollywood Reporter.
“What makes the film most impressive is the impressionistic handling of its milieu, in particular the tensions between the centre and its rural surroundings, with locals often hurling anti-semitic taunts at the boys. […] Apparently improvised ensemble scenes with the teenagers bristle with energy, and Englert’s energetic camera and often luminous naturalistic photography provide a distinctive signature,” writes Jonathan Romney in his review for Screen Daily.
“There’s a great harmony between the story and the more aesthetic properties of W imie… . The striking, serene Polish landscape is shown in varying degrees of beautiful light, imagery as rich as the performance from Chyra, who carries the film from start to finish,” writes Ben Jones for Peanut Butter Thoughts.
Stopklatka’s Małgorzata Sadowska adds that audiences of In the Name Of… can be seduced by the subtle photography by Michał Englert, immersed in golden lights, luscious greens, and delicate mists.
Translated by Karolina Kołtun