If the Berlinale jury made a misstep this year, it was in awarding the Grand Jury Prize to François Ozon for his ultra-timely docudrama By the Grace of God. Their decision was understandable – this account of Lyon’s ongoing clerical sex abuse scandal is sensitively handled and persuasive. But Ozon plays it safe as a filmmaker. The result is a deliberately paced procedural with a muted colour palette, which sees a succession of middle-aged men sombrely reflect on the trauma infl icted on them by a paedophile priest Bernard Preynat, before banding together to expose the Catholic church’s efforts to cover up his crimes. Ozon should be lauded as a social activist, but it’s a shame that he should receive his most prestigious award to date for work devoid of the style and subversiveness that once made him such an exciting auteur.
By the Grace of God (Grâce à Dieu) | D: François Ozon (France, Belgium 2019) with Melvil Poupaud, Denis Ménochet. Starts Sep 26.
Check our OV search engine for showtimes.