Priest

After the film’s festival showings, scissors-happy Miramax trimmed eight minutes from this lively 1994 piece of exploitation about the travails of a gay priest in Liverpool, but it still packs a wallop; whether it can sustain much reflection afterward is another matter. It started out as a four-part TV miniseries scripted by Jimmy McGovern, who spent a day cutting away two-thirds of it when it got approved as a feature; director Antonia Bird (Safe) serves up the telegraphic remains in punchy docudrama style. Apart from the inner conflicts of a young priest (Linus Roache) who’s actively gay, the movie throws in his dilemma at being unable to expose incestuous child abuse revealed to him during a confessiona subplot handled in the style of a lurid horror thrillerand generally manages to whip up feelings of righteous indignation about the moral hypocrisy of various Catholic officials while adhering closely to the manner of 50s Hollywood-liberal agitprop. If entertainment passing as deep-dish soul searching is what you’re after, you won’t be disappointedthough with the use of You’ll Never Walk Alone on the sound track, it’s debatable whether the filmmakers know how to stop when they’re ahead. With Tom Wilkinson, Cathy Tyson, Robert Carlyle, James Ellis, Lesley Sharp, and Robert Pugh. (JR)

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