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Conspiracy Of Silence

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Conspiracy Of Silence

Director: John Deery
Runtime: 84 minutes
Cast: Jason Barry, Jonathan Forbes, Brenda Fricker

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Issues of social, cultural, and religious significance get addressed with all the subtlety of a quickie splatter sequel in Conspiracy Of Silence, a well-intentioned but ultimately incompetent Irish dud. A strange cross between clumsy message-movie moralizing and tawdry genre sensationalism, the film explores the issue of celibacy through the story of an earnest young aspiring priest (Jonathan Forbes) who gets kicked out of seminary after its faculty misinterprets a fellow student's botched pass at him. Meanwhile, a dogged reporter (Jason Barry) investigating Forbes' dismissal becomes intrigued by the possibly connected suicide of a gay, HIV-positive ex-priest.

At the heart of the film lies a civil war between an old-guard Catholic establishment obsessed with maintaining a celibacy-based system and progressive reformers intent on dragging the Church into the 21st century. Conspiracy Of Silence thankfully doesn't see the priesthood as a monolithic entity—it primarily condemns members of the Church's venal power base, who in the film behave like sneering villains in a lesser Steven Seagal vehicle.

Writer-director John Deery apparently intended to craft a serious, timely film attacking the Church's anachronistic embrace of celibacy, but he wound up with a cheesy mystery-thriller, complete with a nefarious cover-up, ominous threats, a hyperbolic score, and a climactic televised confrontation/revelation straight out of The Jerry Springer Show. Conspiracy Of Silence bravely, though bone-headedly, tackles one of the central issues facing Christianity today. But a subject this delicate deserves to be explored with tools far more intricate than the sledgehammer that qualifies as the film's only rhetorical and thematic weapon.