'Deliver Us From Evil'
4 Stars out of 4
November 11, 2006
At one point, Oliver O'Grady was a priest and a pedophile. Today, he's only the latter. O'Grady is the scariest brand of monster, the kind we openly invite into our home. He's a disgusting predator wolf whose sheep's clothing happens to have a white collar.
Amy Berg's devastating "Deliver Us From Evil" questions how lies, perjury, cover-ups and outright ignorance in the church's highest offices allowed a known sex offender to prey on unsuspecting parishioners in quiet California towns from 1976 to 1984. The director builds O'Grady's video confession using candid interviews, deposition footage and clips of the abuser's victims. The result is unflinching and uncomfortable as it depicts the emotional scars suffered by O'Grady's targets, but the film's messages of awareness and intolerance remain relevant and can't be preached enough.
"Father Ollie," as his parishioners called him, is described as a people person. Heart-wrenching testimonials from former church members Bob and Maria Jyono illustrate the mind-set of traditional Catholics. "He was the closest thing to God that we knew," said Maria, an Irish native and devout Catholic who had been taught all her life to trust the clergy. That was before Jyono learned O'Grady molested her adolescent daughter, Ann.
"Evil" offers an unprecedented glimpse into the ongoing church scandal that continues to grab headlines to this day. Berg catches up with O'Grady, currently free on parole, and records him in two locations the man should never be allowed to revisit: a church and a public park, with young children seen playing in the background.
Hearing O'Grady recount his sins sends chills, especially when he admits on camera, "I should have been removed and attended to." The documentary takes the church sex scandal to deeper levels as it educates us on monsters worse than O'Grady (if that's possible), probing the church superiors who ignored the priest's past transgressions and reassigned him to California parishes miles away from the scenes of his crimes. Monsignor James Cain and Cardinal Roger M. Mahoney, shown via deposition footage, testify on their joint efforts to sweep O'Grady under the rug and into another community, preferably one without children. "Evil" infuriates as Berg exposes underhanded practices in the "monarchy," which is how church scholars describe the current tower of power, which protect clergy members from public accusations without ever addressing the problem.
So why is this movie important? It reminds us of a problem that we stare down every day. Pick up today's newspaper and read about evangelical leader Ted Haggard, who preaches one message to his converted but is arrested for participating in the criminal acts he condemns. When will O'Grady, Haggard and the hypocritical leaders drunk with power recognize that it's not about the people breaking our trust, but about the devastated lives they leave in their wake?
Rating: 4 out of 4
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Starring: Oliver O'Grady, Thomas Doyle
Movies reviewed and rated by Sean O'Connell, Arts & Entertainment Editor.
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