Communion (Greg Hall, 2013) 4/5
Film and religion has always had an interesting relationship. At the very root of this is the debate of how ‘faith’ and the unknowable can be portrayed on screen. Generally speaking various world cinemas has dealt with this either by either creating insular character driven pieces or through gratuitous violence. Walter Salles’s ‘Central Station’ fits the former, William Friedkin’s ‘The Exorcist’ the latter. Obtaining a balance is the key here and Greg Hall’s new feature ‘Communion’ from his filmmaking collective ‘Broke But Making Films’ might just have the ingredients to achieve that.
The film follows Father Clarence (Paul Marlon), a man with a tragic past who must come to terms with his stance on religion through his own form of vigilante actions. As he takes to the road, he is accompanied by Maria (Ana Gonzalez Bello), a hitch-hiker who is fleeing her past life in Mexico City. Through their mutual disgust of social injustice, their relationship flourishes and the bond that they share becomes increasingly powerful as they reach for their own personal conclusions.
Part Thriller and part Road Movie Hall’s film takes us on an emotional rollercoaster where not only two extremely different characters clash but the themes of religion and social interaction are dissected. However, none of this seems stilted and such is the pace of the film it never becomes dull or circumspect. One of the great things about the film is the site of the ocean as a place of rebirth and confession, a great scene takes place whereby through storytelling (and great animation!) Maria recounts the tale of her past. Borrowing from a Tarantino-esque approach to building up violent scenes and a focus on human relationships, Hall has created something that successfully marries two genres.
The performances all round are great, especially from the two leads who really hold the entire narrative together. Marlon and Gonzalez Bello have a great chemistry and the scenes they share seem so natural, in fact they are able to portray such hurt and likeability that the audience will rally for them even through their more morally dubious actions.
As such, Communion, with its deft touch and ability to tread the tightrope of the representation of religion is a great addition to Hall’s ‘Broke But Making Film’s’ armoury, long may his efforts continue.