Sunday, October 21, 2007

Movie Review: Deliver Us From Evil

Deliver Us from EvilI’ve just finished watching the award-winning controversial documentary Deliver Us From Evil. It follows the story of a Catholic priest, Father Oliver O’Grady, a convicted pedophile who raped and abused children as young as 9 months old in California in the 70s. He is, at present, roaming free in Ireland after serving seven years in prison. When you first meet O’Grady on the screen, he comes across as someone who is remorseful and wants to put things right by telling his story. But the more you listen to what he has to say as the film progresses, the more you get the feeling that he is not much more than a very clever manipulator. The way O’Grady talks about his crimes, the more you get the feeling that he doesn’t really understand the depths of evil that he has perpetrated on his victims. O’Grady describes how he wants to write letters to each of his victims inviting them to come and meet with him so he can tell them it should never have happened so that he and they can move on with their lives. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that he seems to be looking forward to the reunion with his victims. When his softly spoken descriptions of his crimes is contrasted with the deep pain of the interviews with his victims, O’Grady’s remorse seems even more superficial. The horror of this man roaming free is intensified when we see him casually lean against the fence of a children’s playground. O’Grady is not the only criminal in this story. The Catholic hierarchy protected him by moving him around knowing what he was doing. The documentary also describes the coverup extending to the highest levels of the Catholic Church all the way to the current Pope. (According to the documentary, the current Pope was actually charged with allegations of conspiracy to cover up child abuse in the Catholic Church, but on the request of the Vatican, President Bush made him immune from prosecution.) The documentary consists of interviews with victims of O’Grady and their families, video footage of depositions, and interviews with a number of people within the Catholic Church who are fighting for justice for these victims and the thousands of others who have suffered sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The abuse of power by leaders of churches is destroying people’s lives and their faith. One of the interviewees in the documentary reminds viewers that the only time in the gospels when Jesus gets angry is ’when he goes to church’. The Lord’s Prayer includes asking God to ’deliver us from evil.’ What a travesty it is that, so often, we have to pray to be delivered from the evil of the church - an evil that frequently sides with the abuser rather than the victims of abuse. Father O’Grady got away with evil because people who were supposed to be committed to protecting the vulnerable allowed it to happen and actively covered it up. This documentary is harrowing and confronting as it reveals the ripping apart of people’s souls. It will leave you haunted and angry. But it should be compulsory viewing for anyone who cares about our children or those who are now adults still suffering from evil perpetrated in their childhood. My Rating: ****1/2 (out of 5) Positive Reviews ’Brilliant and psychologically transfixing documentary.’ - Owen Gleiberman/Entertainment Weekly ’Works best when it concentrates on O’Grady and the ever-rippling effect of his transgressions. Viewers may not remember the victims whose stories practically pierce the heart, but they’re unlikely to forget O’Grady’s deceptively innocent face. - Desson Thomson/Washington Post Negative Reviews None available Content Advice Strong themes AUS: MA USA: Not rated Related Links

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