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I do not dive into Polish cinema often; I think the last time I did was when Kieslowski's Three Color Trilogy hit Criterion. But when your film shares the same name as a town in Texas and is nominated alongside an eventual Best Picture Oscar winner and a pseudo-autobiographical film by Almodovar, it sort of warrants a closer look.
Corpus Christi is written by Mateus Pacewicz and directed by Jan Komasa. It tells the story of Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia), a convicted murder serving time in juvenile detention for the crime. During his imprisonment he finds religion, and his record prevents him from seeking a life in the priesthood. Once released he works a manual labor job and goes to the church in town. Circumstance gives him the chance to be a priest, and take over for the local vicar, who is excusing himself for some health issues.
There's a certain sense of anxiety Daniel has when living this new lie of his, and Bielenia's ability to carry the vulnerability and bravado is compelling in a similar way that Matthias Schoenhaerts was able to do when he starred in Bullhead. It's that kind of charisma, but in a small Ewan McGregor like frame. It is funny how his suggestions to people in confessional are wrong. Not wrong, but very out of place. His suggestions for grieving families from a car crash in town that killed several people provides a separate emotional valve that branches into its own story. As Daniel gets more comfortable, he feels a sense of loyalty to the town.
The other members of the cast put in emotionally genuine turns as well; Eliza Rycembel plays Marta, who helps drive the grieving families towards some form of closure, whether right or not. Barbara Kurzaj plays a widow who is ostracized by the group and Aleksandra Konieczna plays the church sexton, both to equally excellent efforts that help make the story of the town resonate all the more for Daniel and those who he comes in contact with.
Stories like Corpus Christi have been told before more or less; where the protagonist is thrown into a weird situation, but it is one that he is not inexperienced with, and he deals with it, until he has a conflict where he has to make a choice. The film's ending makes for an intriguing one when it comes to Daniel's fate, one that is less certain than those whose lives he impacted in the town. In a way it is very much like Parasite, telling a story a different way, and taking a different third act turn that merit why people enjoyed the film as they did.The Blu-ray:
Corpus Christi is given a 2.39:1 presentation which looks pretty good for the material it is displaying. Image detail on fabrics is better than expected, large bonfires pop with yellows and oranges, and black levels are decent but not too inky. Flesh tones are faithfully reproduced in all their local glory, and the final sequence includes some interesting camerawork that could be put into a Guy Ritchie film and colors are nature in it as well. It turns out being an excellent transfer.The Audio:
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless track is natural sounding and also a nice listen; with church services sounding clear and having a good level of immersion, songs sounding broad and powerful, and dialogue being well-balanced and consistent through the experience.Extras:
Three things here: a making of for the film (15:01) where the cast and crew talk about the film, how different it is to things they worked on in the past and the spirituality in it; "Nice to See You" (16:04) is a short film Komasa did when he was younger, and the film's trailer (1:56) complete the package.Final Thoughts:
There are films similar to Corpus Christi, but few feel as emotionally raw or authentically, or have a lead with a potentially breakout performance that could help him to larger visibilities and successes. Technically the film is good and the supplements are fine given the source and nature of the production. If you are looking for something during all of this quarantining, Corpus Christi is heartily recommended for something you will find yourself intrigued by.