The Chilean drama The Club, from Pablo Larraín (2012’s No), might be spare, but it packs a lot into its loosely plotted and deceptively low-key spaces. In a small seaside town, four men and a woman — four former Catholic priests and a former nun — share a house. They are intentionally isolated, having committed some sin and now living in an on-earth purgatory, caught between the oversight of the Church and the potential dangers and temptations of the secular world. They are a companionably cranky lot who share the unsanctioned hobby of greyhound racing.
- Members of The Club
But a new resident, a disgraced priest, arrives and precipitates a disruption severe enough to bring an investigative priest from Church headquarters, in Santiago. As he questions the very role of the house — “this is not a spa” — and the disposition of its members, long-buried secrets, torments and desires come to the surface. And nothing is helped by the stranger who hangs around the house, shouting a horrifying litany about a priest sexually abusing a boy.
The story is a microcosm of what has occurred in the institutional Catholic Church: how crimes within it have been hidden and “dealt with” internally; the anguish of those harmed; and how the persistence of cover-up has simply caused the poison of unresolved pain to seep deeper into the cracks of the Church. The Club is angry and not always easy to watch, but it is clear-eyed and unflinching.