HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Seance
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
No Man of God
Gaia
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
   
 
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
   
 
  Absolution Catholic Guilt
Year: 1978
Director: Anthony Page
Stars: Richard Burton, Dominic Guard, David Bradley, Billy Connolly, Andrew Keir, Willoughby Gray, Preston Lockwood, James Ottoway, Brook Williams, Jon Plowman, Robin Soans, Trevor Martin, Sharon Douce, Brian Glover, Hilary Mason, Hilda Fenemore, Robert Addie
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: One day at this Catholic boys school, the head priest, Father Goddard (Richard Burton) is approached in the grounds by an itinerant named Blakey (Billy Connolly) who tries to persuade him to take him on as a handyman, odd job man, even gardener, but his request falls on deaf ears and Goddard sends him away, making his lack of interest very clear. This does not stop Blakey from setting up a camp in the nearby forest, and attracting the attention of some the pupils, specifically Benjie Stanfield (Dominic Guard) who makes friends with him. But Goddard, whose faith is absolute, wishes to guide Benjie to the path to the priesthood, and Blakey is a bad influence...

Absolution was a troubled, relatively low budget production shot largely on location in England where director Anthony Page put the surrounding woodland and chilly school halls and corridors to good use. He also put Burton to good use, as he had been enthusiastic about the project for a number of years, probably because it had been penned by Anthony Shaffer whose Sleuth had been both the talk of the theatre world and subsequently a very successful and well-liked film. Yet this little item didn't carry the same cachet somehow, and was either poorly distributed or largely ignored, despite such novelties as featuring comedian Billy Connolly's first film role, serious, too.

After his meteoric rise in stand-up he was evidently wishing to make the most of his new opportunities, not that Connolly was doing far more acting than Burton, as while he was playing a character, he approached it in the exact same way as he would anything else he performed, as often in his films, he seemed to be playing himself. Burton was awarded the juicier role, and it would have been nice to see him sparring with the comic, but for some reason after that initial confrontation the screenplay kept them apart as the wanderer and the priest conducted a low-key battle for Benjie's soul. However, what Page counted on sustaining our interest was a suspense thriller twist.

There's a reason Absolution is not as discussed as much as Shaffer's other screenplays such as Sleuth or The Wicker Man, or even his Agatha Christie adaptations, and it is not wholly down to the lack of visibility for the work. It is more that just as the plot was settling down for an intriguing moral drama, suddenly it had no more conviction for that area and decided to put Goddard through the emotional wringer instead when it introduced a murder element to the scenario. A little more foreshadowing might have prepared us for this, but as it was the thrills simply came across as increasingly silly, just as its predecessors in such similar seventies efforts as Unman, Wittering and Zigo or Child's Play (not the killer doll opus), though even they had a stronger degree of credibility to them.

The revelation that one of the characters was, in essence, a criminal mastermind out to test the faith of the faithful in a manner suggesting he was nothing less than Satan himself was hard to swallow, to say the least, but it was by no means all bad, as Burton in particular was able to carry the film just over the finishing line before it collapsed in a heap. Connolly, as mentioned, was not stretching himself but was a more subtly powerful presence than you might initially think (and yes, he did play his banjo), Guard was appropriately ambiguous and potential victim David Bradley, who had made such an early impact in Kes, demonstrated he was no one-hit wonder, taking the potentially caricatured schoolboy sporting a leg brace and a whiny, ingratiating manner and making him someone we could understand and fear for. There was some controversy over whether Shaffer had been "inspired" by another source, which may be another motive for the film's relatively orphaned status, so the fact they actually completed it was an achievement of sorts. Music by Stanley Myers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1090 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: