Nominated for Best Documentary at this year's Academy Awards, Deliver Us From Evil is a deep examination of sexual abuse by the Catholic Church and the cover-up they executed to keep things quiet. What sets this movie apart from other films of a similar nature is that this one features several interviews with an ex-priest who admits to molesting several children. That being said, Deliver Us From Evil didn't grab me the way I was expecting it to.
Deliver Us From Evil is about Father Oliver O'Grady, who performed varying amounts of abuse on several victims over the course of several years. More startling than his candid descriptions of what he did is the fact that the Catholic church, whenever confronted with complaints, simply moved O'Grady to other locations, effectively covering up the situation and hiding it from the police. The movie also interviews several of his victims and his victims' families. While their stories are "interesting", I have to admit it's something we've all heard before. More captivating are the interviews with the parents of some of the victims, especially the interracial couple, and the shocking confessions from O'Grady himself. O'Grady describes some of his acts and acknowledges they are wrong, but he seems like he has been trained to say that but doesn't actually believe it. When his focus shifts from his own acts to blaming the Catholic church for letting him proceed, the blaming act is both pathetic and true.
Pedophiles are one thing, but an organization that is built on moral authority yet covers up such atrocious crimes time and time again is even worse. The Catholic church has proven consistently that it is stuck in a time where it was appropriate to do the things they do, which ended for the rest of us several hundred years ago. The interviews with the priests and cardinals who covered things up about O'Grady are sad and disappointing, as these men could have so easily ended things before so many victims were affected. Most interestingly, the movie even takes a stab at the current Pope, as Benedict was one of the men involved. In fact, he was even indicted, but President Bush pardoned him from prosecution.
All that being said, Deliver Us From Evil didn't draw me in the way I expected it to. A good documentary grabs me and keeps me watching, and Deliver Us From Evil tends to drag on a bit. The interviews with O'Grady should have taken me and shook me, but instead they disturbed without holding me down (seriously, no pun intended). I have seen other films about pedophilia that capture the attention more, namely Capturing the Friedmans, one of my favorite documentaries of all time.
Still, Deliver Us From Evil is perhaps less of a cinematic tale than it is a startling look at an infrastructure that has allowed hundreds and probably thousands of children to be raped and abused by those who are meant to give them guidance. The documentary may not be the most amazing film on the planet, but the story it tells is still disturbing on many levels. Recommended, but I don't see an Oscar nominee here.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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