by Phillip Clarke
CALGARY-The Padre is the worst kind of movie, because it’s so aggressively average and forgettable. It’s neither great to the point of recommendation, nor is it downright terrible to the point of being an “around the campfire storytelling kind of legend”. It’s simply a bland, middle of the road piece of cinema that will be instantly forgotten about the minute the lights come back up.
To be fair, it gets points for assembling a top cast of impressive talent. Tim Roth as a con artist/thief posing as a priest being hunted by grizzled cop Nick Nolte and bewildered local authority Luis Guzman sounds like a whole lot of fun, right? One would think that that would be a recipe for a fun crime caper. It unfortunately never matches as a film, with several very jarring tonal shifts, none of which stick any kind of landing of any sort. The film feels choppy and unfocused thereby negating any real dramatic tension or intrigue from its proceedings. Is it a revenge story? Is it a con spectacle or an illegal immigrant drama? It’s somehow all three of those things, and yet also none of them at the exact same time.
The story gets very quickly bogged down early on by Lena, who’s played by Valeria Henriquez. She does try her level best to keep up with the three classic thespian heavyweights, but is constantly outshined by them in every single scene. It also doesn’t help that the script gives her basically nothing to do, other than to be the jumpy and often vexing upstart to Roth’s cool and collected, snarky, fake man of the cloth. Roth can do so much with a just one simple look of alcoholic disdain. Those moments are punctuated throughout, all of which would make for a great short film, but certainly not a feature.
Editorially the story is painfully paced, where almost all of the dialogue scenes needlessly drag on and on more often than not. What little action there is showcased in a movie like this is few and far between. It’s also been done better before, more than enough times. It’s hard not to think of several different films that came before it, which would make far more of an impact on its viewers than this one does.
The Padre is a frustrating feature film that tries to balance way too many different genres and essentially succeeds at none of them. The film is truly at its best when Roth mutters several swears under his breath in exhausted frustration. Outside of that, there’s nothing about the film that is noteworthy in any capacity.Calgary International Film Festival, drama, Jonathan Sobol, Luis Guzman, Nick Nolte, The Padre, Tim Roth, Valeria Henriquez