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Film

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TWIST OF FAITH

Directed by Kirby Dick

Artistic License, opens July 1, Quad

A rebuke to those who dismissed Mystic River‘s Greek tragic symmetries as jerry-rigged, the documentary Twist of Faith recounts a real-life case where the specter of childhood sex abuse endlessly seeps into the present. Tormented by memories of being molested as a teenager, Tony Comes, now an adult with a family, unknowingly moves in five doors away from his alleged abuser, ex-priest Dennis Gray. Tony can’t toilet train his son without thinking of the past; he and his wife, Wendy, independently describe how Tony’s recollections haunt their marriage, nullifying physical intimacy between them and displacing Wendy’s own, admittedly less traumatic problems. Twist of Faith alternates between footage of Tony’s family life, much of it shot by the subjects themselves, and Gray’s 2003 deposition, in which the former Catholic school teacher either fudges his answers or pleads the Fifth. (He has denied the charges and all lawsuits against him were settled). Director Kirby Dick (Derrida) shapes the movie in such a way as to leave everyone flummoxed. Gray’s accusers remain perplexed that a man could be reciting Mass one minute and violating his pupils the next—it seemed, as Tony puts it, “too screwed up to question.” Publicly impugned for sweeping allegations under the rug, Toledo auxiliary bishop Robert Donnelly puts up a phenomenally unconvincing defense. Indeed, much of the film concerns Tony’s diminishing confidence in the Catholic church. How can he possibly entrust his daughter to Sunday school? In the film’s powerful final chapter, Tony prepares for her Communion. BEN KENIGSBERG

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