Procession ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I was so, so incredibly fortunate to have seen this film at its premiere at the Missouri Theatre, followed by a Q&A with director Robert Greene and most of the main cast. I am going to spoil some moments from this, so please, do not read this until after you’ve already seen it when it arrives on Netflix this month. Every minute of this film is worth taking in.

At the premiere, Greene said something incredibly interesting, which was that he felt if he couldn’t help the subjects of the documentaries he made, he didn’t want to make films anymore. It’s not something you expect to hear from a filmmaker. Well, it’s not something I expected to hear from a filmmaker, at least. 

But oh, what a goal.

I think it’s the passion of that goal which ultimately lead this to be one of the most successful documentaries I’ve ever seen. That’s probably the absolute best word to describe this film. It was successful at conveying the pain and trauma these men have experienced from abusive leaders of the Catholic Church. It was successful at showing some of the most raw, depressing, enlightening moments a human being can have, and all the emotions that come with those— multiple times. It was successful at revealing both highly subtle character traits and, arguably more fascinating, highly un-subtle traits, like in moments of deep rage from one of the men as he throws curses around the table as his short film is being produced, or when another of the men, who was acting as a sort of line producer and focusing much more on helping the others than himself, refused to believe he was truly standing on the site he was abused at. It was also successful at being darkly and bleakly hilarious, with more than just the weight of each person’s abuse being shown to us, but their entire personality. Stuff like this is hard to capture on camera, but even harder to do justice to. 

Really, what truly, ultimately makes this film successful is that each of the men in this film were helped, in some way or another, by the crazy, socially experimental process of pseudo-drama therapy, a concept I am now totally fascinating by (at the Q&A, the drama therapist for the film said she believed drama-therapists should be required on the set of every single film and thinks it’s crazy there isn’t any sort of required implementation of therapy on-set for Hollywood productions). There’s a moment near the beginning of the film at the first meeting between all of our men where one of them breaks down crying, talking about how he’d like to use these films to be like the Avengers, wielding Thor’s hammer and smashing down the authority of the Catholic Church and their lies told to young abused men. At the end of the film, he’s given a sledge hammer to break down the set built for his movie. That scene especially highlighted for me how every single one of these men received a sledge hammer of sorts. Something that began the process of recovery and reckoning in a way they couldn’t have before the experience of making this movie; of making their movies. Maybe I’m biased because I attended the premiere. Maybe I’m biased because I heard each of the men seen on screen say in front of my eyes how this film truly benefitted them. But no movie has done what this movie has, nor will probably any in the future, and few movies are as successful at achieving their goals as this one.

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