24 July 2005 | gradyharp
A Bit of French Spirit Saves This Slight Story
Le Divin infant (HOLY CHILD) is a French made for television little film, written by Jean-Luc Goossens and directed by Stéphane Clavier, that is part of a series of films collectively titled 'Tales from the Orphanage', a series which opens the door to both the randy rowdiness of young boy orphans as well as the tender, needy emotions of children who land in collectives for one reason or the other. The constant seems to be the need for discovery of each child's roots or at least a return to the family so desperately needed for a child's maturing. In that way this series is both entertaining and touching.
THE HOLY CHILD focuses on one boy Dimitri (Adrien Aumont) who while somewhat of a malcontent in his orphanage longs for a life outside. He sees a priest on the television Père Marc Aubrey (Lambert Wilson), a priest well know in the media for his celebration of the benefits of chastity before marriage, and immediately identifies him from a saved photograph of him with his mother Martine (Agathe Teyssier), now in prison. Dmitri leaves the orphanage and appears in the church where Père Marc is officiating in Mass. Dressed as an acolyte he confronts Père Marc with the fact that Dirt is his son. Père Marc is chagrined: how will this affect his public image of a bastion for chastity? Dmitri pleads his homelessness and Père Marc takes him home where Père Marc's mother Mamitta (Marthe Villalonga) immediately offers her heart. Père Marc at last confesses to Dmitri that on the day before he took his vows of chastity as a priest he slept with Martine and agrees that he is indeed Dmitri's father. The two agree to keep the fact a secret, Dmitri lives with Père Marc and Mamitta and gradually the parish takes Dmitri into its fold.
When Père Marc informs his bishop of his fatherhood, compounded by his rather recent indiscretion with Marie (Diane D'Assigny) with whom he sleeps after a confessional deal to keep Marie from spreading the truth about Père Marc, the situation comes to a climax - leave the priesthood or stay. That decision molds the ending of the film.
Yes, it is a slight story, and yes, it moves in directions obvious form the start, but the cast is good and Lambert Wilson has a fine sense of comic timing that keeps the story on course. There is enough said about the current state of the Catholic Church's social and political stances to make it a palatable satire. It has its charms. Grady Harp