Club agenda

Dark and difficult, it may be, but Pablo Larrain’s El Club is sheer mastery. 


El Club
Cert: Club

CELEBRATED Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain turns his political gaze away from Pinochet – a backdrop he used to great effect in Tony Manero (2008) and No (2012) – to close his lense in on another great institutional evil with startling results.

He takes us to a wind-lashed fishing village in the back end of Chile where four men and a female warden co-habit on the periphery. A strange dynamic is trickled out between the sitting room and the beach front; the four are perpetrators of clerical crimes, ranging from baby-snatching to paedophilia, and have been housed there by the Church to do penance. Their quiet life of prayer and greyhound training is upset when a new priest arrives. Very soon he meets his end, resulting in a Church inquisitor being dispatched to the house to investigate his death.

Larrain’s roving direction and cool framing, Carlos Cabezas’s strings and a roundly excellent cast combine to stunning effect in this magnetic and highly original critique of the Church. Rarely does a drama balance a range of colours – intrigue, repulsion, beauty, dread, humour – with such brazen confidence.


First published in the Sunday Independent


Published by

Hilary A White

Dublin-based arts journalist and reviewer, specialising in film, books, music and human-interest stories. Sunday Independent / Irish Independent / / RTE Radio 1 / Today FM

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