In 2015, Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, on The Boston Globe’s efforts to uncover the rampant child abuse by Catholic clergy, won widespread acclaim. In the same year, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín came up with The Club—a twisted tale of scandals and crimes of the shepherds of the Church.
On the outskirts of a Chilean town is a residence for priests. At this ‘retreat’, they hardly lead a life of penance or abstinence, but try to get from life as much as they can. Every person who is sent here has an abominable past.
Their life of relative comfort is unceremoniously cut short when a newly arrived priest at the residence commits suicide. The authorities dispatch a crisis manager of sorts to assess the situation. The priests are uncomfortable with the idea as they believe that the Church wants to shut the house down. The film unfolds through a series of interviews conducted by the new priest, as the crimes and transgressions of clergy at the residence—from abduction to paedophilia—are revealed.
The Club, nominated for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards, is an uncomfortable watch, but one that warrants attention. It presents the rot in the Church through the psychological sketches of the abusive clergy and one of the victims.