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Twist of Faith
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by Scott Weinberg

"Beware of priests with leering eyes and a team of lawyers."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: It's not too often that you can take in a Sundance Documentary on the very same day it's been nominated for an Academy Award, but that's precisely what happened in the case of "Twist of Faith." I have no idea how the Academy guidelines work, but obviously a doco need not have opened theatrically prior to its nomination...and frankly it's not even all that important. What I did find most satisfying was this: "Twist of Faith" deserved that nomination. It's topical, it's tragic, and it's exceedingly well-conceived. And unless you're a member of the Archdiocese of Toledo, I suspect you'll feel exactly the same way.

Tony Comes is a totally sincere, effortlessly likable and typically salt-of-the-earth middle-class American. He's a hard-working firefighter with two beautiful children and a lovely young wife. We meet Tony as Twist of Faith opens and we respect the guy almost immediately. And then...once we learn about the adolescent tragedies that Tony's carrying around inside his soul, our hearts just sink. Tony, you see, was sexually molested when he was a kid. Several times. By a priest.

Mr. Comes earns our sympathy right off the bat, but when we learn that his former predator now happens to live five doors down from Tony and his family...well, obviously that's just way too close for comfort.

Twist of Faith is a fascinating and heartfelt look at the numerous molestation scandals that have plagued Ohio during the past several years. Far from being an isolated victim, Tony soon learns that many others (friends and strangers) had been abused in precisely the same fashion. This after the local bishop had assured Tony that NO other allegations had ever been leveled against one Dennis Gray.

And this is when one horrible case of childhood abuse ballooned into something much more unsavory. Bad enough to have one young man forced to deal with the horrors of sexual molestation, but when numerous others pop up and make similar claims - well, that's something of an epidemic. And on top of these, the most heinous of crimes against innocent youth, we now have the governing bodies of the Ohio Church denying that they ever happened! Apparently it's easier to get into heaven by molesting children and then lying about it than to own up to these terrible crimes and offer some well-deserved apologies.

Obviously I have nothing at all against the Catholic Church as a whole. Twist of Faith could have been about a summer camp or a secular pre-school and I'd still be equally as furious. But to see grown men, respected community leaders and self-admitted men of GOD hiding behind a litany of double-talk and a team of high-paid lawyers... It just boggles the mind. The actions of serial pervert Dennis Gray are bad enough, but to have the Catholic church protect this guy and brush his unseemly proclivities under the carpet...well that just makes my heart ache. Not just for the victims, but for the millions of folks who truly love the Catholic Church.

Director Kirby Dick came up with a great little technique for this film: he gave Comes and a few others video cameras of their own, so as to capture their actions and reactions in the most candid way possible. We're also granted access to Comes' friends and family members...as well as a videotaped deposition with Mr. Gray himself. (Granted, the guy's lawyer won't let him answer anything that might be, well, damning, but I suspect the damnation is already done.)

I've absolutely no idea why we've seen so many recent cases of clergymen committing sexual abuses against young boys, but I do believe that films like "Twist of Faith" may go a long way towards preventing new ones. As a sad and sobering case study, this is an excellent documentary. But it also exists as something considerably more important than that: this is a film that just might prevent other children from suffering the way Tony Comes did. And that's a pretty damn impressive feat for one movie to accomplish.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11212&reviewer=128
originally posted: 01/29/05 14:23:07
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Vancouver Film Festival For more in the 2005 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/05/15 thomas extremely overrated 1 stars
10/25/06 William Goss Tremendously insightful and painfully potent without once sinking to melodramatic tactics. 5 stars
4/28/06 J My husband was sexually abused by Father Denny Gray, as well!!! 5 stars
6/30/05 Janet Carson Excellent 5 stars
6/26/05 Paul Pfaffenberger This movie shoulld be required viewing for all priests and bishops. 5 stars
3/01/05 Naka An absolutely FANTASTIC documentary. 5 stars
1/28/05 joe moving, excellent 5 stars
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  01-Jul-2005 (NR)
  DVD: 21-Feb-2006



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