Directed by: #StephenBisaccia
Film review by: Brian Penn
True originality can rarely be found on film as plot lines slip into familiar territory that audiences instantly recognise. But just occasionally something emerges that hasn’t been previously explored. Acts of Contrition falls neatly into this category with a refreshingly different narrative. Annoyingly, it fails to travel any further from an intriguing opening premise.
Father Don (Tom Martin) is a Roman Catholic priest apparently doubling up as a cab driver. Various customers jump in the back and are confronted with a new location for confession. A convenient means for catching lapsed Catholics perhaps, but Father Don is trying to supplement his income and reach out to his flock at the same time. Late nights scraping up lost souls in the cab leads off in all directions; people sleeping rough and penitents making peace are a series of dots that seemingly begin to join up. He struggles with faith, his own past and a troubling confession that makes him fear the worst.
The vagaries of Roman Catholicism are explored and its apparent contradictions laid bare where the central character begins to question his own faith. Were the personal sacrifices Father Don made really worth it; has he truly pleased God with the life he now leads? They become fairly bleak questions in a desolate landscape where everyone seems to need emotional rescue to some degree. As he delivers a sermon on lent, he stresses not so much the need to give something up but to give to each other. But can he solve this moral conundrum?
Whilst it pursues an intriguing concept, the cab driving priest storyline isn’t developed outside the opening frames. Which in itself is a pity, because it would seem a less intimidating atmosphere for people to confess? Nevertheless it switches back to conventional scenes within the church. To put the priest into a cab is inspired plotting and the story could have got to its destination a lot quicker if it had stayed there. But this is a solidly produced piece that portrays the agony endured with faith.