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Film Review: AGNES: A Peculiar and Darkly Comedic Approach to Faith in Crisis [Fantasia 2021]

Zandy Hartig Molly C. Quinn Mary Buss Rachel True Agnes 01

Agnes Evaluate

Agnes (2021) Film Review from the twenty fifth Annual Fantasia International Film Festival, a film directed by Mickey Reece, starring Molly C. Quinn, Sean Gunn, Hayley McFarland, Chris Browning, Rachel True, Jake Horowitz, Zandy Hartig, Bruce Davis, Chris Freihofer, Heather Siess, Ben Hall, Lorri Bohnert, Ginger Gilmartin, Cait Brasel, Mary Buss, Jacob Ryan SnovelNick Swezey, and Chris Sullivan.

Oklahoma’s filmmaking workhorse Mickey Reece is again with Agnes, one other microbudget indie function with sufficient darkish comedy to fill your communion-plate to the brim.

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In what appears to be Reece’s twentieth-odd function, Agnes follows Father Donaghue (Ben Corridor) and his pupil Benjamin (Jake Horowitz) as they journey to the Diocese’s reclusive convent the place a younger nun Agnes (Hayley McFarland) is reportedly possessed by a demonic spirit. Though Donaghue doesn’t consider in possession he thinks the ceremony of exorcism has placebo impact on one’s psyche, and he’s prepared to undergo the motions to appease that notion. (That, and the truth that Donaghue finally has no say within the Diocese’s resolution to relocate him, particularly within the wake of abuse allegations beginning to percolate amongst his parishioners.)

The convent, saved strictly pious by the Mom Superior (Mary Buss), is cautious of getting two males of their presence, however they relent out of wanting Agnes to be rapidly cured. Sadly for her Agnes’ demon is cussed and refuses to be solid out, so Donaghue and Benjamin are pressured to hunker down for some time. As the times tick by Donaghue seeks out the assistance of the ex-communicated superstar priest Father Black (Chris Browning) to assist in the ceremony, a lot to the chagrin of Mom Superior and Benjamin, who brings with him eccentric strategies that can put everybody’s ideas of religion to the check.

Reece’s model is astutely enigmatic, welcoming one in with calling playing cards of normalcy earlier than throwing one for loop after head-scratching loop. It’s an extremely odd dichotomy of the acquainted and the unusual – not in a method that stops Agnes from being indiscernible nor unwatchable, however moderately in a method that makes it play like an unsolvable puzzle. Though, with the ability to expertise it for a second time (I initially caught it back in June at Tribeca) does add the slightest little bit of readability.

For example, Agnes is actually humorous. Some could balk at that declare as a result of movie’s air of self-seriousness and its oddly divided plot, however Reece is counting on these high-brow signposts and our expectations of style with a view to then subvert them – generally for uncharacteristic particulars (Sister Honey taking the Lord’s title in useless when she’s flirted with), generally for sarcastic chuckles (Sister Ruth breaking politeness to admonish Father Donaghue’s abilities after Agnes assaults him), and generally for uncomfortable laughter as a coping mechanism for the sheer awkwardness of a scenario (the clergymen writing off Benjamin’s considerations with stomach laughs of their very own, or Mary and Paul’s awkward small speak on the laundromat). The humor doesn’t all the time land, however you’ll be able to see how Reece is retaining us on our toes by digging it out from so many sudden spots.

Agnes can be a surprisingly deep meditation on the ability of religion, and to what extent we permit it to affect our lives. Regardless of what the title could counsel, the “possessed” Agnes shouldn’t be the main target however moderately her shut pal Mary is, terrifically portrayed by Molly C. Quinn. We be taught that she joined the convent after experiencing an ideal private loss, and he or she finally ends up leaving it after not reaching the non secular peace she so craved. In a climactic scene with Benjamin she questions how one can actually know God, and the recommended conclusion Mary reaches is that it won’t be value making an attempt for attributable to all of the struggling one must endure regardless. Even Father Donaghue alludes to this earlier on, warning Benjamin that it’s not value taking the rites of priesthood if you happen to harbor any doubts (whereas concurrently alluding to doubt as an inevitable and inescapable side of life).

Reece, nonetheless, isn’t content material with giving us a straight-up atheistic and even non-denominational win. Somewhat, he appears to counsel that every one types of perception (or lack thereof) are however coping mechanisms that we use to rationalize our hardships in life, and that we’ll by no means be absolutely rid of our demons as a result of they’re interwoven into the very material of our being. Non secular maturity comes with the acceptance that perfection is unattainable on this mortal coil, and that every one a perception system (and even life general) can really provide us is momentary bouts of development and enlightenment – symbolized, fairly actually, as Mary experiences pivotal moments wherein she is all of the sudden illuminated in a vivid white glow (like seeing Paul Satchimo, portrayed by a moderately sardonic Sean Gunn, carry out stand-up for the primary time). It’s pessimistic spirituality, if such a factor exists.

And therein lies the explainer for Reece’s unusual humorousness: we now have to chuckle on the sanctity and self-seriousness of all of it, as a result of we will’t do a lot else. Identical to spiritual perception, laughter is typically the one factor we now have to assist us cope. Life certain is a humorous factor of great contradictions, ainnit?

Score: 7/10

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