"Thanks to God" or the power of fiction

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The film investigation of François Ozon, giving flesh to the victims of Father Preynat and their intimate wounds, makes a significant contribution to the scandal of sexual abuse in the Church.

Beautifully constructed and performed, this film, awarded with a Silver Bear in Berlin, is undoubtedly the most accomplished of its director.

Thanks to God***

from François Ozon

french movie, 2 h 17

Here it is finally on the screens this film which concentrates since some weeks the media attention. After a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and two brought to justice for the postponement of his release, François Ozon's new feature film dedicated to the Preynat affair will be released on Wednesday, February 20 in nearly 300 screens, giving viewers opportunity to form their own opinion.

Release of "Grace to God", for justice the warnings are enough

In tackling the sensitive subject of sexual abuse within the Church, the multifaceted career director, did he know he was going to trigger such a storm or was he overwhelmed by events? Circumstances or not, his exit, set shortly after the end of the lawsuit against Cardinal Barbarin and on the eve of the summit convened on this subject by the Pope in Rome, made it an element of the debate and a subject of controversy. This particular context should not make us forget that Thanks to God is also and above all a cinematographic work and must be judged as such.

A cross between the thriller and the intimate film

From this point of view, the director of Under the sand and of Eight women Undoubtedly proves his talent as a filmmaker and signs one of his most successful films. Perfectly constructed and interpreted, crossing the thriller and the intimate film, he embarks us for more than two hours in the heart of the torments experienced by these former scouts, abused in their childhood by the father Preynat, at the moment when they decide to overcome the weight of the silence.

François Ozon: "I wanted to make a film citizen, which allows the debate"

Quite documentary precision, the film unfolds the sequence of events since the solitary initiative undertaken in 2014 by Alexander, a fervent Catholic and father of five children, with the Diocese of Lyon and Cardinal Barbarin to obtain the dismissal of this priest , until the creation of the association La Parole libérée and the lawsuits filed against both Father Preynat and the authorities of the diocese of Lyon for covering his actions.

Facts now known. But by giving flesh to the victims, to their intimate wounds, to the weight of the word and its effects in the family intimacy, to their questioning on faith, François Ozon brilliantly demonstrates the power of fiction to make tangible and tangible the subject of sexual abuse in the Church. " I wanted to show men who cry "Says the director whose starting point was to make a film about male fragility.

The whole cast is remarkable

Built in three parts, like a passage relay between three main victims – Alexandre, François and Emmanuel – the film changes registry to each of them. With the coldness and the drought of the exchanges of mail between Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud), bourgeois rather reserved, and the diocese succeeds the anger and the fury of François (Denis Ménochet), well decided to shake the institution, then the emotion of a broken life with Emmanuel (Swann Arlaud) whose testimony helps to free him from his chains.

No scene is useless in a film whose whole cast is remarkable. It evokes the denial of certain victims as well as of some parents, the feeling of guilt of those who did not speak, the debates between the victims themselves on the meaning of their action – " We do not do this against the church but for the church "Says Gilles (Éric Caravaca) one of the founders of the association – or the place of forgiveness in their approach.

François Ozon opposes the logic of the victims based on the need for truth and justice to that of the Church based on mercy and forgiveness, illustrated by this chilling scene where Alexander is invited to pray with Father Preynat. A useful film even if we regret that the filmmaker did not try to enter with the same rigor in the complexity of the response of the institution, making Cardinal Barbarin a secondary character and disembodied.

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Guillaume Goubert, editorial director:

A title that adds harm to evil

" Thanks to God "Has the great qualities mentioned here and deserves to be seen. But we are also entitled to make several reservations. It is objectionable to have used the names of real people mixed with surnames of fiction. It is regrettable that the director makes the men and women of the Church appear as hieratic figures, without thickness, seemingly only concerned with their tranquility and what will be said. We will know nothing of the questions they may have asked themselves, of their probable willingness to do well even if it may have been wrong. Finally, last and main reserve, the title of the film. The deplorable phrase of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin has hurt. And François Ozon adds harm to evil. God is for nothing in pedocriminality.

Céline Rouden

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