The Club firmly designates Pablo Larraín as a great subversive filmmaker, if only because of how cleanly the film takes down one of the most powerful ideological state apparatuses.
The Club tells the story of a group of Catholic priests and one nun who have been removed from their parishes and placed together in an isolated home where they will not be a nuisance to others. They live their days in peace – the peace equally undeserved and devastating – until one day, a victim of abuse at the hands of his childhood priest shows up at their door demanding a response. This leads to an incident which brings a counsellor to the house and sets everything in motion.
The film is not particularly impressive visually: the cinematography is drab and the technical details are, for the most part, ordinary. But, this is all necessary in order to allow the story and the characters to remain at the film’s centre stage. The priests are hidden and forgotten, pathetic husks of what they once were, but The Club refuses to allow them to be forgiven. They are held up as avatars of the entire catholic church, a small part of a powerful device for child abuse, forced to respond for their sins by an avenger. Full credit needs to be given to all of the performers in Larraín’s film; never taking the easy path towards exploitation, resulting in real human characters, which makes the whole affair all the more horrific.
Towards the end, The Club takes an unexpected turn, resulting in a sequence of pure carnage which, while powerful, threatens to unsettle the film’s calm demeanour. Thankfully, Pablo Larraín’s filmmaking is competent enough to survive that swerve, ultimately resulting in an even more powerful resolution to this allegorical tale of the crimes of the powerful.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam