Twist of Faith
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THIS TELLS THE STORY OF A MAN WHO CONFRONTS THE TRAUMA OF PASTSEXUAL ABUSE AS A BOY BY A PRIEST, ONLY TO FIND HIS DECISIONSHATTERS RELATIONSHIPS WITH HIS FAMILY, COMMUNITY & HIS FAITH.
There's no easy way to address a highly charged subject like the sexual abuse of young boys by Catholic priests, but with Twist of Faith, director Kirby Dick has taken a straightforward approach, using neither fanfare nor frills to create an unflinching but highly personal documentary about this disgraceful episode. The 2004 film's focus is on one place, Toledo, Ohio, and primarily on two men. On the one hand, there's fireman Tony Comes, mid-thirties, married with two kids. Some twenty years earlier, he'd been molested by his then-priest; callow, impressionable, in need of love, Comes found himself in a situation he describes as "too screwed up to question," with the result that he was "so confounded that (he did) nothing." On the other hand, there's Dennis Gray, the priest in question; a thoroughly repellent individual, Gray is seen in a 2003 legal deposition, evading questions on the advice of his lawyer. But Comes is far from silent. Having spent two decades racked with guilt and shame and thinking he was the only victim, Comes is galvanized into action when the abuse scandal becomes national news. He shows remarkable courage and honesty, keeping nothing from his wife and young kids, joining a support group, even visiting the cottage where Gray committed his unspeakable acts; determined to make not only the pedophile priests but those who ignored, lied about, and covered up the abuse acknowledge and take responsibility for what happened, he also files a lawsuit. All of this is done at considerable personal cost. What happened to Comes and the other victims we see here went even deeper than the nightmares and family problems they experienced; it shook their very souls, calling into question their lifelong faith in the essential benevolence of an institution that has betrayed them. Grim but compelling, Twist of Faith makes for very sobering viewing. --Sam Graham
- Commentary by director Kirby Dick, producer Eddie Scmidt and Tony and Wendy Crewes
- Q&A from the film premiere
- Interview with director Kirby Dick
- Audio track of Far Away by Tony Comes
- Deleted scenes
- Filmmaker bio
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The movie tells the heartbreaking story of firefighter Tony Comes, who has all of his life had to live through the trauma of the aftermath of sexual abuse. In his story you can see that the abuse does not only affect the victim, but his whole family who all have to suffer. That should be an indication of the enormity of the crime that the "religious" watchdogs of the church have suppressed and covered up for years and years, probably ages. Sadly, it ends up with Tony accepting a payoff from the church (of course it's an admission of guilt) but not the proper and formal apology that he wanted. Hopefully, he and his wife will be able to put this behind them and get on with their lives.
The most troubling part of the film is the interview with serial rapist Dennis Gray, who denies to the bitter end that he has done anything wrong and even claims that putting a penis in a child's mouth is not harmful at all to the child. It dawns on you after a while that this is what true evil looks like,this utterly, utterly soulless man who has no compassion or empathy for the children who are put into his trust.
The way the Catholic Church dealt with the sex abuse scandals is a dark stain on their sleeve, a stain that will remain there for a long, long time. After all, it's not about just talking the godly talk, but walking the godly walk, right?
The movie is almost embarrasingly personal at times, showing scenes of human anguish that resonate long after the credits roll. I found myself thinking about it for weeks afterward, almost haunted by the evil that masqueraded as a servant of God. Tough to watch - impossible to forget.