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The body of the church
on 22 January 2010
Father Goddard(Richard Burton) is a dour, pious Latin teacher in a Catholic Boarding School. He denies his pupils any luxury, denying them football on television and discarding the devil's aftershave. Among the pupils are confident, aloof teacher's favourite Benjie Stanfield(Dominic Guard),nervous, needy Arthur Dyson(Dai Bradley, rather wonderful) and posh, snobbish Cawley(Robert Addie). A travelling Biker called Blakey(Billy Connelly) comes into their lives, first being turned away from the school after looking for work, then setting up camp in the nearby woods, befriending Stanfield, much to Goddard's chagrin. Recriminations follow, leading to a series of dubious confessions, a psychological game of cat and mouse and worst of all the discovery of a body in the woods.
This is a pretty decent psychological thriller, with good perfromances, especially by the younger members of the cast,Richard Burton is also good, reverting to eye rolling mode after being rather understated for the first act of the film. Scripted by the brilliant Anthony Schaffer, the plot is a little thin for the running time allocated to it, but despite dragging a bit, its still a fascinating study into religious hypocrisy and the sancity of the confessional. There are a couple of touches that push the film into horror film territory as well.
The main negative aspect is the DVD release, with a very poor, washed out and jerky picture transfer being a real let down. This lowered my score, as it did with a previous viewer, as surely with a film only 30 years old, a better restoration job could have been done. 4 out of 5 for the film, 2 out of 5 for the release, rounded up to 3 out of 5.