So, The Priest Film Is On

It almost seemed forgotten – especially with the pandemic putting an end to all film productions for the time being. But now the Hollywood Reporter *exclusively* (!!) claims that the project is back on track – and put Richard right on top billing.

I am kind of non-plussed by the news. Well, let’s say I am veering more towards plus than minus, actually. But only because I am delighted if Richard appears in *any* role. As I have said before, a priest? *meh* I am just not into them. Nothing about them screams “hot” to me, and somehow I am not overly enthusiastic to see my favourite actor play one. I dislike the way they dress, I dislike their institution, and I dislike the morals they are representative of. The book itself was also not a winner for me. I just didn’t quite warm up to Father Quart. He remained distant and in many ways I just couldn’t quite fathom him. And right now I just can’t imagine Richard playing a ‘holy man’. Not sure why… maybe I have seen him running around in too many action roles? Well, maybe that is the big challenge then. Both for Richard – and for me. I guess I will have to get used to this.👇🏻

 

56 thoughts on “So, The Priest Film Is On

  1. “Clearance” (remember that?) was sold at Cannes, too, and was never made. I’m waiting to read the book till I hear it’s green-lit.

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  2. I remember reading the book last year. I enjoyed ‘The Three Stooges’ the most. Father Quart – in hindsight – didn’t appear to be extremely bright. He simply repeated everything every one said and sort of mentally put everything on a spread sheet. I did think he got the shaft in the end as he didn’t come to conclusion the Church wanted him to come to.

    If it gets made, of course I’ll watch it. After I watch The Stranger, Pilgrimage, and Urban.

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  3. I am ‘plussed’ by the news and hope the film will be made. I do share your feelings about priests but I think RA will suit the part, bringing depth, intensity and gravitas – and will suit the black cassock. Talking of which, oh Guylty, I love your image of Father Richard, he’s even wearing his favourite shoes!

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    • Ha, you spotted the incongruous shoes. I very much doubt that styled-to-the-nines Quart will wear shoes like that, but I thought they were a little nod to Armitage and his own pair of those white-soled basketball boots.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hmm. I just hope Richard doesn’t have to wear one of those weird long skirt things in the movie that the cardinals and some of the Vatican priests wear. Might be hard to run in that when he’s chasing bad guys. LOL I am not fond of priests either, but I’m sure Richard will do a good job if the movie is in fact ever made.

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    • No doubt, he is going to do a great job in this. And the dark hair and lots of dark stubble will make him look very Italian. (In the novel he never wore a cassock, so at least there is hope in the looks department.)

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  5. Didn’t I read somewhere (ages back, whenever this was first rumored) that the priest, because he functions as a bit of a spy, has to not stand out, therefore wears business suits? RA in the highest quality, gorgeously made, superbly fitted, Italian menswear? Bring it on.

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  6. Might be time for a re read
    I liked the book and thought, if handled sensitively would make a good film not filled with ‘ action’ but lovely scenery and clever dialogue
    I agree Quark is treated badly at the end

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    • LOL – I presume this is a typo, but I love the way you have written “Quark” and not Quart. (Seeing that I was not enamoured with the character, I think that’ll be my chosen nickname for the role from now on 😁)
      I am hoping that the script will make the plot a little bit faster than the book was. It kind of trundled along and felt a bit too long-winded for me in places.

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  7. I’ll try to keep my expectations under control on all fronts—it actually seeing the light of day as well as how it’ll be should it come to pass.
    I have no issues with the priest bit (I’m pretty devoid of any reverence, so it holds no specific meaning for me) but I think a dig collar might be an interesting visual.
    I started the book, but never finished. The mood reader hasn’t been in the mood for it. 🤷🏻‍♀️

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    • As an (unpracticing) proddy, I don’t feel any reverence to Catholic priests, either. On the contrary, with the experience of living in Ireland where a new Catholic church abuse scandal hits the country every year, I am more or less disgusted by the priest caste. I suspect *that* is why I don’t want to see RA play one.
      I think there is a comment in the fact that the “mood reader” never got into the mood 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I noticed the shoes too! 😀

    This would be a bit of an ecclesiastical step up from MrVicarofDibley. A belated thanks for the roundup, meanwhile.

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    • LOL – it’s all a matter of perspective.
      And having nay-said everything, I actually am now curious to see how this film will turn out. It’s probably the best strategy to have: expect nothing – and be wowed.

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  9. I remember you saying that once before about priests. I do have a soft spot for them, probably due to me knowing some I really liked as I was growing up (the good ones, that is, not the many abusive ones or the ones that refuse to understand that the world and society are evolving), so I am quite excited to see RA in a cassock! Just the whole crime element doesn’t really do that much for me. There are a lot of ways to eff this up, so I really do hope it will turn out alright.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so completely brainwashed by the church scandals that have rocked Ireland, that even your (harmless) mention of your memories as a child actually makes me shudder. Mentioning priests and children in one sentence, almost makes me feel sick, such is the overriding association I have with priests. For me it is actually the crime element that is the only redeeming feature of this film. In what way, do you think, the film could be effed up, though?

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      • I share your disgust at that side of the church! I also despise views they have on contraception and LGBTQ issues and such and even their celibacy rules suck. And yet, I have known some very good, kind and progressive priests who did a lot of good. In fairness, I’ve known more nuns than priests but then even many nuns can be seen as problematic. I am not religious myself, I am critical of religion but there is also a lot that I find positive about it. And that’s where the effin’ up comes in it for me – how will the religious life be portrayed?

        With Pilgrimage, for instance, I felt like they really effed up the religious aspects in that movie, it’s a story with a 20th century opinionated sheen covering it. Will someone who actually knows anything about religious life be attached to the project? I’m not sure how that was for Pilgrimage, but I don’t feel like anyone was attached that could understand the significance of religion to a person without making them seem ridiculous.
        With this movie the story is centered around a priest and how will they portray that? Will they be apologetic about who he is or will he be holier than thou, both of which I’d hate? Will he be the only good priest out there and all other priests and nuns villains? Will the religious life be completely unimportant to the story (which, for a priest, would not make sense, because their lives center around religion) or would the religious life be completely ridiculed? Does it matter to the character that he is a priest or could he just as well have been a detective in a trench coat? How sensationalized/stigmatized will the religious life be portrayed and how judgmental will it be? Yeah, lots of ways to eff this up for me. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • I really like this comment (and agree emphatically about Pilgrimage, and you could make a similar series of comments about Castlevania). Since I’ve gotten out of church history as a primary professional focus, I spend less professional time with assorted clergy but I am still friends with most of the people I knew, and of course now I work on a campus associated with the Roman Catholic Church and I while I am often frustrated at certain things, all in all I admire what the nuns and the campus do. I really couldn’t work there otherwise. From my perspective, there are also plenty of pedophiles in the general population or other institutions and their crimes have been hidden by powerful actors. Anti-clericalism on this basis is primarily imo a (totally justified) critique of hierarchical power, but it shouldn’t fall equally on all priests. Of course this is going to look different in Ireland than it does elsewhere for historical and cultural reasons.

          I haven’t read the whole book (just the beginning), but I think key to assessing your concerns is that the character is a Jesuit and it’s very much a novel about the curia and its prerogatives. So right away he’s not some beleaguered parish priest or agitator for justice or sufferer from existential crisis. Quart is mostly a priest because he appreciates the institution of the Church. He doesn’t have a lot of intense faith in the divine (which is not unusual among Jesuits, despite all the Marian piety and the Spiritual Exercises). The book is less specifically *about* faith than the Pilgrimage script claimed to be.

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        • On a rational level I completely agree that not all priests can be tarred with the same brush. (Yet, *also* rationally I am asking myself how *any* thinking, decent, kind man (woman – in case of nuns) can voluntarily be part of an institution that has condoned, hidden and excused such abominable crimes even up until the most recent times. Rhetorical question; I don’t expect an answer from you!) I once met a young man who was a priest, and he seemed pretty copped on (but devoid of humour, unfortunately. Well, he was German.), but I suspect those are few and far between.
          Thanks for your explanation re. what could go wrong. Those are really good points – and I actually hadn’t really thought that far at all. Mainly because I have read the book and I know that Quart’s status as a priest is not really that important in the book. He is an intellectual working at the curia, and not a priest with a congregation. As such he is probably more the “detective in black” type of character, not the “priest detective”. However, there is an element of church criticism in the book, in that there are rivalling church officials who have an impact on the plot. (Trying hard to stay spoiler-free here.) I could also explain why Quart himself is a likely-yet-unlikely candidate for priesthood, but again, that would be spoiling the plot. But in essence I agree with you now, in that it is to be hoped they will have advisors who will shed a light on the intricacies of depicting Catholicism and the institution of the Catholic church.
          As for “Pilgrimage” – again, a film made by (predominantly) Irish people… I think the main downfall with that film was *not* that the writer and makers were influenced by their own (negative) experience/opinion of the Catholic church, but by their ignorance of what religion meant for 13th century people, both lay people and monks.

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          • Pilgrimage: I think those things were directly related, though. Because the writer was so vehemently anti-clerical (that was his reason for making the film, as I recall), he had no way “into” the religious sentiments of the 13th century.

            re: joining the clergy in awareness of the evils of the Church — pedophilia, as revolting as it is to us, is by far and away not the worst thing done by or in the name of the Roman Catholic Church in its long history (or other Christian bodies, for that matter). But this is kind of my point about the critique of institutions. In the case of Ireland it’s hard to imagine a successful Irish nationalism capable of throwing the English out without the component of the Church. The current pope will always be tainted by his implication in the Argentinian Dirty War, but liberation theology, which is very much present among Jesuits, has motivated significant resistance to corrupt and conservative regimes in Latin America. I have a Jesuit buddy who was motivated to join the order directly by the martyrdoms of the Jesuits in San Salvador — because he wanted to be involved in the challenge to corrupt government. Jesuits in Nicaragua were also leftists (although since that meant the Sandinistas, it was a mixed pleasure).

            Or, to take another example: the U.S. federal government has also done horrible things in its history (and still does them). However, I would never tell someone who really wants to change the U.S., or even the world for the better, to avoid participating in or working for the U.S. federal government at all costs. The problem is the institution, more than it is the specific motivation of the actor or even the sub-agency, but to accomplish things of note, it’s hard to get around institutions.

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            • You are right – there is a correlation between Irish anti-Catholic sentiment and the inability to actually represent the 13th century truthfully.
              Joining an institution to do good from within is certainly a valid strategy. I don’t know enough about the Catholic (or any) Church to really comment, but I believe what you are saying re. the current pope, liberation theology and Jesuits. And that institutions have to be changed from within (because that is where the power for change sits). Yet that is the crux of the matter. In order to get to a position of power, it looks as if people have to compromise (to some degree).

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              • I would never say it’s not a challenge — but I am really hostile to purity contests of the kind we seem to see every day now. They simply end in arguments and don’t accomplish much, but the one thing they do allow people to do is to evade responsibility for situations as they are (because they don’t participate). It’s really easy to stand on the outside and jeer as opposed to trying to get something done and maybe making some mistakes.

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          • Thanks for the clarification, Guylty! Maybe I should read the book but then I’m not that into crime novels (whether situated within the church or anywhere else). Sounds like it all could be OK, though.
            About institutions – they can be based in good principles, yet become rotten in places. Church institutions are run by people, with the same power struggles and politics as within any institution (religious, political or otherwise). This (moral) corruption needs to be rooted out from the outside and from within to make it better, that goes for the church as well as for other institutions. So many in the church come there with a calling to do good, so while some of it is rotten, I do not believe that all of it is.

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            • The core idea is probably good. It is weak people who have corrupted these institutions, and the corruption has become ingrained in them over centuries. It’s hard to change that – without compromising oneself.

              Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree with your comments about religion in his productions, too, Esther. As a childhood Catholic who left practicing religion as a teenager, 40 years later I started researching an immigrant Catholic church in New York City. I know much about the work of its early pastors (circa 1900), and have volunteered for projects with its recent pastors. I’ve realized that these priests all are (and have been in the past) essentially social workers and generally very good men–with senses of humor, G, because they are also New Yorkers 😉. It’s an admittedly small, specific sample, but it has turned my head around from being “anti-Catholic.”

    As for whether entertainment productions “get it right.” Oh, please. We’ve all seen, from years of analyzing RA productions, that we his fans clearly think about the different subjects of his projects more deeply than the writers of them do. It’s almost inevitable. Some (poor) writer spends two or three years producing a script, and we spend the rest of our lives tearing it apart. Why should this production be different? The edge for us will be provided by what RA brings to it, not what the writer gives him to start with.

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    • I think you are making an important point in that you are speaking from a POV of personal experience re. meeting “good men” within the church system.
      And your New York sense of humour (cynicism?) definitely comes to the fore in your second comment. Oh yes, I think the audience takes the productions much more seriously than the makers. Or put it this way: While the makers are often distracted by their need to generate revenue with their “product”, we are concentrating on the product itself. In that sense, this production is definitely going to provide fodder for analysis, as you said. It’s almost irrelevant whether it will be good or bad – both in praise and in criticism it will receive our attention.

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  11. I find Quart very interesting, though not immediately sympathetic, i don’t think he’s meant to be. He’s very much an anti-hero and i would say much more of a soldier than a priest, at least at the very beginning, maybe even more than he himself realises. I really wish people could have access to the original, especially in the Spanish audiobook version. It’s exquisitely read.
    But, it is very very Spanish, everything about it, the society, the subject, the heat, the atmosphere, i am just not sure this translates well for public abroad tbh.
    It’s not a typical thriller, but APR doesn’t do those. It’s interesting to know he has been a war correspondent for over 20 years before starting a very successful writing career. His view on humanity is not particularly optimistic.
    Not sure how many people there was a very popular series made based on the book which ran on Antenna 3 in Spain : here’s a flavour https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUoW9gpvkU4 😉

    It made me smile. does Quart not remind me of someone? 😉 very Porterish.. but i don’t think that does real justice to the book, there is definitely room for another version.

    However, i am biased. I love Spain very much, and that is very much part of the appeal of the book to me, especially as it is not the touristy postcard Spain either. I’d like to see what they could make of the book. I’d hope they’d have the writer at least on board in the project. There is something very sad but also a bit romantic and old fashioned about Quart, i’d be lying if i said i wasn’t curious of how he would embody him.

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    • Thanks for the link
      Very Strikeback and the resemblance is striking lol
      I didn’t get that vibe from the book but I can see how those flashback scenes demonstrate how the hero is a man of action
      It will be interesting to see the new version
      My biggest fear is for it to be made but never get a global release.

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      • Oooh, I only just now looked up the link that Hari posted. That was intriguing. And yes, very Strike Back (could’ve been the font of the credits btw 😂)
        I don’t remember Quart being quite as involved from the book. But this would bode well. (Hope RA doesn’t feel he has been typecast..)

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    • It was very much my impression that the book I read suffered from the translation. That’s not to say that the translation was bad, but based on my experience with Spanish literature that I have read so far (always in translation – I do not speak Spanish), the style is just not quite up my street. I am sure that is down to me not knowing anything about Spanish language and literature, not the quality of the writing. And in that sense I struggled a bit with this book – and wasn’t all that open to being wowed by the story… So yeah, I wish I could read it in its original language.

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      • Well i was lazy too. I should read for exercise but i loved the narrator’s voice so went for audiobook. All in all it’s not APR most exciting novel because i don’t think the subject has the widest appeal but the character has an interesting history and i think R would be really good in it. But also tbh i just want moaaaar content especially if we could get some more visual stuff not just audio. Though i started his and hers and i am enjoying it. Though the bbc cliche stuff is very irritating i have to admit. Totally eye rolling. But curious to see where it will go, bout mid way through

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  12. Well that article cleared my confusion as I had read somewhere ‘skin of the drum’ and thought it was another title change but in fact Drumskin is a production name attached to the film lol

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