The Priest's Children

The Priest's Children


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

One of the few comedies in the Competition, albeit with some serious undertones, The Priest's Children burst on the scene in the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival’s closing days like a ray of sunshine amid a plethora of subjects in which a sense of doom and gloom seemed to prevail.

Croatian director Vinko Brešan’s fifth feature perhaps over-loads its premise - a young Catholic priest comes to a small island and starts poking holes in condoms in an attempt to increase the birth rate – but it’s extremely engaging and frequently side-splittingly funny.

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An audience record-breaker on its home turf, it has also been selling well internationally and deservedly so.

Set in a picture-postcard perfect Dalmatian village it recalls the atmosphere of Michael Radford’s Il Postino as we’re taken in to the lives of the villagers who, if the rising rate of funerals is any yardstick, are a dying breed.

Enter a naïve novice Catholic priest, Fabijan (Kresimir Mikic), who is assigned to his new flock and decides to take action to boost the birth rate. He learns in a confession that condoms and birth control pills find favour among the populace at the expense of fertility despite the Church's doctrine.

In cahoots with a local kiosk owner and a renegade chemist, he hits on a plan to pierce the supplies of condoms and to replace the Pill with vitamin tablets.

Although the priest is motivated by the best intentions, obvious cracks begin to appear in the scheme – and some of his parishioners do not necessarily welcome the unplanned pregnancies.

Based on a controversial stage play by Mate Matišic who adapted the screenplay, the film takes a stylised and occasionally surreal approach, which suits the wacky humour. Naturally the Catholic Church was less than overjoyed at the highly critical tirade.

With its freewheeling sense of the absurd, The Priest’s Children certainly alleviated the misery predominant elsewhere in Karlovy Vary’s official Competition.

Reviewed on: 05 Jul 2013
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A young priest is appalled at the very low birthrate in his new community. When the confession of a local tobacconist reveals the reason why, he opts for a rather unusual method for rectifying the situation.
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Director: Vinko Brešan

Writer: Mate Matisic

Starring: Kresimir Mikic, Niksa Butijer, Marija Skaricic

Year: 2012

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: Croatia, Serbia

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