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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'The Club': A Highly Provocative Chilean Drama about Four Disgraced Priests Living in Exile

Movie poster for the Chilean film The Club (El Club) from filmmaker Pablo Larraín

The Club (El Club) (2015) is an acutely provocative Chilean drama about four disgraced priests living together in a small beach town in central Chile. Exiled by the church as a consequence of varying transgressions, the quartet is imprisoned in their beachfront home with a former nun (Antonia Zegers) as caretaker—their confinement designated as forced atonement for their unspeakable crimes.

Living lives of solitude, almost entirely isolated from society, the group furtively dedicates its time to breeding prized greyhounds as participants in local competitions. Their temperate lifestyle is disrupted, however, by the arrival of new housemate Father Lazcano (José Soza)—and the sudden appearance of a disheveled drunkard named Sandokan (Roberto Farías). Having followed Lazcano from the South, Sandokan sets upon the group with vehement accusations of defilement as a child—waging a personal war against the clergymen he regards as immoral monsters. With the incursion of Jesuit crisis manger Father García (Marcelo Alonso), the storyline quickly evolves into a terse investigation and inquiry into the continued viability of the sanctuary.

Co-written and directed by celebrated Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín (Neruda, Jackie), The Club is a disquieting and thought-provoking depiction of manifest personal reckoning. Tackling the church and its history of egregious complicity, Larraín has crafted a striking parable about transgression, denial and self-preservation. Lead performers Alfredo Castro, Jaime Vadell and Alejandro Goic deliver extraordinary performances as convoluted souls dedicated to divinity yet beset by unimaginable immorality. Not for all tastes, it's an incendiary and brutally forthright perpetuation of Larraín's dedication to socio-political storytelling.


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