The quiet character study In The Name Of is driven by a superb performance by Andrzej Chyra. His character of Father Adam is mesmerizing to watch. Chyra handles the subtleties that lie within his role and Adams’ motives so carefully. His readings and lines are filled with sincerity, subdued frustration, and hurt, but Chyra is able to tell all of this with a single hopeful glance.
I really liked Malgorzata Szumowska’s film. I found that the themes of settling for a safe lifestyle were well stated and even though we so badly wish for Father Adam to find that ultimate plight of jubilation in his career and in his love life, we understand why he feels as if he feels he needs to keep his preferences hidden. It connects to his detailed back story, after all.
It’s by no means a bad movie, a decent movie, or a good movie. Szumowska has made a great movie that serves as an undeniable recommendation for a movie goer wishing to watch an interesting, struggle-filled character come full circle to the best of his capabilities.
However, I don’t think In The Name Of will stand the test of time like Andrzej Chyra’s performance will. It’s a film that feels very important and well told but doesn’t necessarily resonate as much as you want it to.
It’s because Szumowska’s drama is very slow. It allows events and character arcs to patiently play out and hopes the audience will have as much patience. A slow burn formatting is much appreciated, but In The Name Of feels a little too lethargic and brings attention to its slow pacing – something that shouldn’t be apparent in a slow burn type of movie.
The film is surprisingly profane as well. Father Adam oversees and accompanies a centre in Poland for teenage boys. There are extended sequences that feel heavily improvised and feel as if they’re almost giving the Dogme 95 cinema buffs something to chew on. These wandering segments are interesting at first, but are done in by a length that’s a little too long.
On top of the slight length issues is that aforementioned crassness. I understand Szumowska is wanting to portray this young commune as raw as he can, emphasizing the “boys will be boys” nature within all this tomfoolery. But, the language that’s spat out at others is so brash, it’ll make the saltiest of sailors cringe and make them wish the otherwise skilled writer/director had toned the language down.
When Chyra’s performance is soaring along with other actors like Mateusz Kosciukiewicz who plays Lukas – one of the rambunctious teens – in an equally phenomenal way, it’s hard not to wish the overall film had been as consistently capable as these high points. Of course, these key performances needed a talented director to tame them, so for that Szumowska gets multiple pats on the back.
Over time, I have no doubt Szumowska will polish the way he writes and the way he paces his movies. I’m not concerned at all for this filmmaker’s future. He’s shown a lot of promise. Hopefully, he’ll use this project as a stepping stone to further his career in storytelling and filmmaking.
Catch In The Name Of at:
Thursday, May 23 at 8:00 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, June 2 at 5:00 p.m. at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
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