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Papa don’t preach

A Polish priest tries to outrun sin in the award-winning In the Name Of

Andrzej Chyra and Mateusz Kosciukiewicz star in Malgorzata Szumowska’s In the Name Of, which won the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. Credit: Courtesy of Vancouver Queer Film Festival

“Run,” Father Adam tells one of the boys of his Polish parish when the teen confesses to having had gay sex.

It’s an unorthodox penance from a religion that often thinks saying seven Hail Marys and five Our Fathers is all it takes for redemption. But as the priest says, “Running is praying, too.”

And he would know. Adam runs daily. So fast he’s like the flame of one of the votive candles in his chapel flickering rapidly in the wind coming through an open stained-glass window. But, as he’s doomed to discover, no matter how fast he runs, he can never get away from himself.

In the Name Of (W Imie) takes viewers into the mind of a pious man who happens to be gay and into the agony of hiding in Jesus Christ’s shadow — the suffering may not be as physical as being nailed to a cross but is no less painful.

Father Adam put on the cloth in the hope that it would conceal the devil within. Joining the priesthood was his solution to what his religion teaches is sin. But just like a Hail Mary — when you reach the last bead of the rosary or the end of your rope — you realize that the solution is ephemeral and that the “sin” still exists.

“I like boys,” Adam slurs to his sister over video chat. “I am a faggot!”

He doesn’t discover his sexuality at the bottom of a vodka bottle, but it is there that he is finally able to confront it. And confront it he must, after catching two teen boys in the group home he oversees having sex, followed by a suicide, and his untamable feelings for a mute man, who, in a devastatingly moving moment, takes on the role of guide and holds the broken priest as the tears stream from his eyes like unholy, yet undeniably cleansing, water. When another priest drives by and catches sight of the intimacy, the gospel really starts to unravel.

In the Name Of could be called In the Name of God or In the Name of Love, because what it ultimately proves is that they truly are one and the same.