July 29, 2019 Surviving Confession (Movie Review)
Confession is a sacred sacrament in the Catholic Church that allows for a person to ask forgiveness for their sins and become right with God and the Church. The idea is to realize the faults and sins and by confessing to a priest find a way to become a better person and not continue making the same mistakes. The sacrament is contingent on feeling real remorse and having a priest who cares deeply for the soul of the confessor, although, at some point hearing people’s sins can make a priest jaded. These thoughts in mind comes the Dark Comedy Surviving Confession set for release digitally on Tuesday, July 30, 2019.
The work of Matthew Tibbenham, making his feature directorial debut, the film follows Father Morris (Clayton Nemrow: Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 2013, Line of Separation 2015) who is the dutiful priest that must hear the sins of his parishioners. He has become disillusioned with this part of his religious duties. He knows secrets he cannot tell, and the same sins are rehashed weekly by the same people. He knows that there is no remorse behind the confessions but is powerless to stop. This Friday night has started the same as the others. Until Amber (Jessica Lynn Parsons: House of Lies 2012, S.W.A.T. 2017) shows up and changes everything.
Amber is a young woman who is irreverent and challenges everything Father Morris says and believes. She refuses to leave and stays in the Church causing chaos for Father Morris as he hears the rest of the confessions. She challenges him in a way that in his current apathetic state he cannot fully argue with. How far will Amber test the patience of a good priest who is already questioning his calling in life?
Nemrow’s Father Morris speaks directly to the camera dropping the wall between the actors and the viewers. This technique allows him to be a relatable figure instead of another stoic introspective priest that seems to be separated from the congregation. The veil of holiness is dropped, and the viewer is treated to his real thoughts and feelings about people and confession. This technique also allows for the viewer to become immersed in the religious conflict Father Morris is having within himself. He is instantly approachable and likable. The authority of his position drops every time he directly speaks to the camera and allows the viewer to see his boredom and disdain for his parishioners. It gives the film a unique perspective and personality.
Father Morris has become jaded with his congregation because they keep confessing to the same sins. The repeating nature has made it clear to him that they are not truly remorseful for what they have done so the entire process has become tedious and draining. The entire plot focuses on a single priest and his own inner conflict but speaks about the issues of the church as a whole. Confession is a way to apologize to God and make things right again. With all apologies, if there is no sincerity behind it then it is just a wasted action to make a person feel better. Father Morris is aware of this but is confined by his position and beliefs to not say anything.
The appearance of Amber, who says whatever it is that comes to her mind, is like the temptation of Jesus in the desert by the serpent. Though she is not really evil, she represents everything that Father Morris is not. She pushes him to step out of his boundaries and say and do what he really feels. In his disillusioned state he is already weak, and her constant pushing makes his potential fall from grace easier.
Priests are seen as stronger people because they help shape the moralities and souls of their congregation. Their faith is supposed to be stronger than the average religious person. They are the religious monitors and strength that people look up to when they are in spiritual conflict. Priests are humans too and can be tempted. An amusingly deep look into one priest’s fall back into humanity and spirituality, Cryptic Rock gives Surviving Confession 4 out of 5 stars.