Thursday, 10 May 2007
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Deliver Us From Evil (2006) dir. Amy Berg
“Deliver Us From Evil” was nominated for an Oscar as Best Documentary last year. It ultimately lost out to the fan-favourite “An Inconvenient Truth”, but this film is a just-as-powerful indictment of an institution whose basis of moral authority failed those who trusted and believed in it the most.
The subject is an Irish Priest, Father O’Grady, who served under the Los Angeles Diocese during the 1970’s. He is introduced to us in an interview in present day. He's older now – late 60’s – unassuming, but conspicuously frockless. Off the top the interview asks him pointed questions about whether he is attracted to young boys and young girls. He frankly answers ‘yes’ to both. We are then introduced to 2 families who befriended and trusted the young priest to take care of their kids and sleep over in their house when needed. We then learn of the heinous acts of sexual molestation O’Grady subjected these kids to and what the long lasting effects were on the rest of their lives. As the father of one of victims states so succinctly – “they were raped – not molested”.
The revelatory information is about how the Los Angeles Diocese and ultimately the Vatican handled the complaints and covered up O’Grady's crimes to further their own political aspirations within the Church. As a result, instead of punishment, O’Grady was moved from city to city farther away from Los Angeles where he proceeded to molest more and more kids.
The fact that the Catholic Church has been covering up these types of cases for years should not come as a big surprise to most – people like Connie Chung and Stone Phillips have made careers from these stories. It’s the subjects that make the film compelling.
Father O’Grady is a quiet monster who’s disassociated himself from the emotional impact of his crimes. He admits he is sick and needs help and acknowledges all his crimes, but is so reticent about it he becomes something akin to Hannibal Lector. The filmmakers chose to feature 3 victims who are now in the older ages and reflect back on the horrors they suffered from O’Grady.
Ann Jyono, Nancy Sloan and Adam M put faces to his O’Grady’s crimes. They are courageous individuals who let us in on the most painful and shameful of memories. But it’s Jyono’s Japanese-American father, Bob, who begins the film with a stoic disposition, then cracks in a moment of uninhibited anger and rage, that brings chills to one’s spine.
The third act of the film delves into the fight to bring justice to the families and O’Grady’s pathetic attempt to reconcile with his victims. Allegations are made from the Cardinal Mahoney of the LA Diocese all the way up to Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) at the Vatican. But this plotline is background for the real heart of the film – Ann, Nancy and Adam’s individual stories.
“Deliver Us From Evil” is tough viewing, but is as important a film as “An Inconvenient Truth” Enjoy.
Buy it here: Deliver Us from Evil