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Review: The Club (El Club)

8 min read
Music Box Films' THE CLUB (EL CLUB)

At some point in everyone’s life, there comes a time when decisions are made that boil down to the source of morality that exist in our hearts. How we attempt to justify our beliefs, practices and reactions will usually differ depending on who we are, but we’ll find ourselves in these positions to respond no matter what. In The Club (El Club), a group of people are confronted with that very situation as the questions that are being asked are will bring discomfort and threaten their artificial stability.

Under a most watchful eye, four men who happen to be former priests live in seclusion away from the rest of the world in a small seaside house. Their reason for being here is to atone for their sins of the past while keeping them at a safe distance from any kind of temptation that would have come their way before being exiled. All is running as smoothly as possible for the group until company arrives on their doorstep. With this comes remnants of the outside world as they are forced to confront their pasts and the secrets that they would want everyone to forget.

In this picture, each ousted priest has his own sinful issue to deal with. Just about all of these immoral practices are all touched on with a solid amount of detail to give us an idea of what’s going on in the lives of these disgraced men who have a difficult time following the laws of God. As you’ll see if and when you choose to watch it for yourself, while all have a chance to be focused on, some of these sins take more prominent positions than others when it comes to the cinematic spotlight.

Right from the opening, The Club gets pretty graphic in terms of language, visuals and the subject matter that’s being put on display. The stuff that’s included could possibly make many uncomfortable, so you might need to be prepared for that if you ever decide to sit down and watch this. It goes without saying, but the content clearly isn’t safe for the ears and eyes of children or the squeamish.

More than anything, The Club is about child molestation, and gives viewers an in-depth look at how these violations of the young can negatively impact individuals long into adulthood. At least in terms of priests, this subject is touched on quite a bit these days in films, but I haven’t seen it handled in this fashion before. For that, it stands alone and even above anything that has come out recently concerning this issue and the types of people that they focus on.

The actors in this film aid in bringing everything to light with the quality necessary to reveal a mature tale told with an effective amount of restraint. There’s a subtlety here through much of it that required a handful of subdued performances in order to further illustrate who these people are and just how out of touch with reality they might actually be. Portraying it all in this manner allows viewers to watch with an analytical eye all the way to the end as the parties involved eventually reveal their true selves.

Although I liked it’s conclusion due to its powerful nature, I found it also to be a bit too sensational. While it’s intriguing to watch, that’s also one of the reasons why I couldn’t bring myself to give it a higher score. This dramatic resolution led me to more questions that I don’t necessarily think we are supposed to be asking after the credits start to roll. Then again, maybe that’s what they wanted to happen, but this seems a little too open to finish off with such a definitive conclusion.

Either way, I can see how this could be a highly regarded film in the eyes of many who choose to see it. If you’re one of those people who can appreciate the more subdued approach to filmmaking, The Club’s unobtrusive style works well even though it’s handling the kinds of controversial topics that usually lend themselves to being too dramatic and emotional in real life.

Rating: No Rating

Director: Pablo Larrain

Alfredo Castro
Roberto Farias
Antonia Zegers
Jamie Fadell
Alejandro Goic
Alejandro Sieveking
Marcelo Alonso
José Soza
Francisco Reyes

Film Length: 98 minutes

Release Date: February 19, 2016 (U.S.)

Distributor: Music Box Films

Country: Chile

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