Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

The Crime of Father Amaro 2002

El crimen del Padre Amaro

Directed by Carlos Carrera

Argentina / France / Mexico / Spain In Spanish with English subtitles
118 minutes 35mm



Vicente Leñero. Based on the novel by José Maria Eça de Queiroz


Guillermo Granillo


Oscar Figueroa


Rosino Serrano


Gael García Bernal
Sancho Gracia
Ana Claudia Talancón


Toronto, San Sebastian 2002


“When the Catholic authorities in Mexico got wind of this movie, which tells of the affair between a young priest and a sixteen-year-old virgin, they threatened to excommunicate its two young stars. Bad move. A curious and aroused public turned out in droves to see exactly how Father Amaro (Gael García Bernal) and Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón) would go about breaking the seventh commandment…
The director, Carlos Carrera, turns out to be a man of serious intent, portraying the Catholic church as a fallible institution, inextricably linked, for better or worse, to all levels of Mexican society.” — Michel Agger, New Yorker 

“The remarkable things about the new film are how smoothly it has been transposed [from a 19th-century novel] to today’s Mexico and how far good acting and skillful directing have gone toward tempering those melodramatic roots…
The film’s best performance, by Y tu mamá también star Gael García Bernal, is in the title role. He makes Padre Amaro into a more convincingly complex character than we might expect… Though it is hardly an advertisement for organized religion, Father Amaro is surprisingly adept at conveying the sense of power and mystery the church has at its command, at showing the intensity of belief that ritual and mysticism can inspire. The film is also determined to treat its characters, weak and strong, as fallible human beings, not caricatures, and to carefully delineate the cost of the inevitable conflicts between human urges and an institution concerned with self-preservation.” — Kenneth Turan, LA Times