Berlin Review: ‘By the Grace of God’ Methodically Chronicles Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church

French director François Ozon has delivered one of the best films of his eclectic career with By the Grace of God, a drama whose seriousness and sincerity marks a tonal shift for a filmmaker typically famous for sexual and sensual provocation. Instead, this chronicle of a real-life grassroots campaign to out Catholic priests who committed and covered up of historic sexual abuse is unsensational and methodical, immaculately written through a script that radically tells three different stories that slide seamlessly together.

The first character we meet is a well-to-do banker Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud), a seemingly upstanding member of his Catholic community who brings his five kids up in the Church. But an encounter with an old scouting buddy brings a part of his past back: he’s asked, “Did Father Preynat fondle you too?” To Alexandre’s astonishment, he learns that Bernard Preynat is still a priest and working with children,

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