A COUNTERFEIT PRIEST
Films that deal on the subject of religion could be as intentionally as unintentionally controversial. Yet, one thing is a fact – they can arouse discussion. Some filmmakers, such as Ron Howard, tend to adopt a rather commercial approach. In contrast, filmmakers like Paolo Sorrentino want to focus on the aesthetics and delve deeper into the internal conflicts of their characters. Either approach has proven to be contemporary, intriguing and revolutionary. Thus, what happens when the author makes their protagonist, who has an exciting profession, enter the Vatican Church for completely different reasons? The result is a compelling journey into the essence of religion, and the inevitable doubt that comes with it. A Counterfeit Priest, written by Paul Cross, tells the story of Henry Hawkins, an American documentary filmmaker who goes to the Vatican to interview Cardinal Contini. Henry’s path is filled with obstacles from the very start – whatever his efforts, he couldn’t get access to the Cardinal. However, his fate changes when he forges a priest’s identity. Under the most absurd circumstances, Henry becomes Contini’s secretary and witnesses the Pope’s sudden death on his first day of work. Overwhelmed, Henry is yet to prepare for his quest inside the labyrinths of lies, controversy, politics and immorality. When he infiltrates the conclave, Henry needs to expose Cardinal Contini of his ill-prepared nature and make sure that he doesn't become the next Pope. As Quixotean his quest is, Henry goes against all the odds to expose the people of faith that were involved in the death of his wife and newborn child. A Counterfeit Priest has fast-paced storytelling. The author doesn't hesitate to start amid the action. Interestingly enough, he didn't choose to show Henry's literal journey to the Vatican. Instead, he focus on moving the plot forward as fast as possible, while he makes exposition for the leading characters. And thus, the storytelling does a brilliant job in capturing the audience's attention within the first fifteen pages. The central plotline, as well as the key subplots, are being introduced. More importantly, their conflicts are transparent. Even though there is a variety of characters, the audience doesn't have a problem remembering them, which tells that the writing is indeed efficient. The story relies on a poignant protagonist – Henry's backstory is tragic and is given nuance in the second act when Rosa tries to get more information on the intriguing filmmaker. There's anticipation about Henry's quest; it's evident that he doesn't persuade the interview only for the sake of the profession. The author makes a good balance between what he wants to tell and what he wants to keep a secret. When analyzing the characters, it’s important to state that A Counterfeit Priest has some remarkable leading and supportive roles, with an accent given to their legitimacy. The author doesn’t use religion to mystify the story. On the contrary, he uses religion and God’s people for the sake of demystifying them. The conclave scenes enhance the overall quality of screenwriting, as they couldn’t be more genuine and remarkably done. It’s because of them that A Counterfeit Priest is distinctive when compared to other stories on the subject. However, if the first act is all about the fast narrative, emphasizing the plot points and graduating Henry’s obstacles, then the second act is about the conclave, and nothing else. Act Two gives the impression that the narrative wants to rest for a bit, and revolve around the idea of electing a new Pope. The conclave and voting scenes eventually become repetitive. Hence they distract the central plotline. There are two issues regarding Henry’s goal as the storytelling unfolds. The first one is connected to his profession – Henry is a filmmaker of creative documentaries, but he forgets to record everything, even under the new identity. He decides to get Rosa's help too late in the story, which sheds doubt whether the conflict is about Henry's revenge or electing the new Pope. Second, it's the protagonist's passiveness after the first election attempt. Henry becomes a supporting character while he watches the great events happen in front of him. During the first part, Henry makes a lot of decisions, and the plot consists of actions. During the second, Henry becomes a spectator, and the plot consists of activities. Then again, the third act adopts the style of the first, introducing plot twist after plot twist, as a lot is concentrated in there. Lastly, the author does a great job with the dialogue. The dialogue provides characterization, and the best examples of that are Cardinal Contini and Alessandro. The way they talk reveals a lot about their demeanour. To conclude, A Counterfeit Priest provides refreshing content to a subject that is starting to become saturated. The storytelling's strengths could be noticed in the characters, the central plotline and the dramaturgy. Moreover, the project could enjoy commercial success, as the audience anticipates the next story that would give insight into a controversial theme such as this. All in all, A Counterfeit Priest has the potential to attract producers and collaborators.
- FEEL THE REEL INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2020
Right from the start we are on a bumpy ride through the grey matter of a tormented regular guy. Watching not only stretches boundaries, it hurdles over them in a fifty yard dash and keeps on running. It's brave, sexy and uncomfortably honest. Well done.
- SEATTLE FILM SUMMIT 2020
Copyright © 2018 DX3 Pictures - All Rights Reserved.O NOIR NOVEL , FILM & SCRIPT FESTIVAL 2020