Starring – Juan Manuel Bernal, Sebastián Aguirre, Juan Ignacio Aranda, Luis Ernesto Franco, Miguel Loyo, Luciana González De León
Directed by Luis Urquiza
“Remember that the biggest danger for a Crusader is evil speaking. That means to speak poorly of others. Especially when it’s about a superior. That is why if any of you have any reason to suspect or accuse a Crusader of Christ, you could only tell it to a superior. Otherwise, you face falling into the worst of all sins. This sin is the most obscene of all. And goes against the Spirit of Christ. Which is why we must abhor it. That is why we must detest it.” -A priest telling the new students at a Catholic seminary school not to tattletale on others. And so the manipulation begins so these priests can more easily sexually abuse these boys who think they are going to school to serve Jesus, but little do they know what they really signed up for…
Perfect Obedience is a film about a Catholic priest who is sexually abusing the boys in the seminary he is in charge of, and the other priests who not only allow this abuse to happen, but also help it along. And what surprised me when I watched this emotionally powerful movie was that I found myself seething with anger at what I was witnessing on my TV screen. I was just so fucking pissed that I almost couldn’t stand to watch this beautiful film from an amazing filmmaker, Luis Urquiza, who directed and co-wrote Perfect Obedience.
Now normally, I don’t watch movies about Catholic priests sexually abusing kids because I find the whole thing utterly detestable and something I can barely even fathom most days. I just don’t want to suffer the same pain those poor kids did just to watch a movie, because the few movies I have seen on this subject, usually left me completely distraught and in tears, too sad to understand how or even why anyone could ever do such a horrible thing to a child, much less the people who were well aware of the abuse and continued to allow it to happen. But after watching Perfect Obedience, I began to understand that my avoidance of this awful, but sadly true subject is because it hits way too close to home for me. I have only just recently started acknowledging the sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of a superior who was supposed to be there to love me and protect me and keep me safe from harm, but instead caused me nothing but pain, suffering, heartache, tears, misery and lifelong depression and anxiety, always fearing when the next attack will come, even still in present day, even though I haven’t seen this abuser in years, because of this person’s need, want and constant desire to abuse me.
And I wonder why I avoid these kinds of movies like the plague??! That’s a hell of a thing to contemplate during the 4th of July holiday week that was last week, but that’s what I did during America’s need to drink lots of beer and eat lots of hamburgers and hot dogs in order to celebrate us breaking free from a tyrannical dictator and government. I began to contemplate how to break free from the tyrannical dictator that hasn’t been in my life for a long time now, but still very much rules over me today.
With the words “Based on a true story” that are displayed for quite a long time at the end of the film to make it crystal clear to us, the audience, that this awful shit really happened, Perfect Obedience tells the story of 13-year-old Julián (brilliantly played by Sebastián Aguirre and I’m not kidding at all when I say this, where is this kid’s Oscar because I have never seen a performance like this before from anyone, much less someone so young) who enters a seminary school to become a priest to serve Jesus and do good things in the world. But Padre Ángel de la Cruz (brilliantly played to absolute creepy perfection by Juan Manuel Bernal and I sure hope he’s just a really, really good actor and not that creepy in real life because good God, that man was creepy) takes a strong liking to Julián and moves Julián into his private quarters where Padre Ángel can have more one-on-one time with Julián. And so the game of manipulation and control and power of an adult over a child begins…
What makes Perfect Obedience so brilliant is they don’t show you the actual abuse, just the outskirts of it and blackened screens. What they mostly concentrate on showing us, the audience, instead and probably why this film made me so fucking angry is how the abuse ends up happening with manipulations thrown in here and there so very causally to get the abuse going. Showing us how an adult controls a child by setting up scenarios so Julián falls further and further under Padre Ángel’s spell. And the game hits its ultimate high when eventually this poor little boy is telling Padre Ángel that he can only sleep with him, no other boys, because even though we, the audience, see that sex between this adult and this child makes the child cry afterwards, he still wants Padre Ángel only for himself. Not only is this grown man abusing a little boy, but he is making this little boy fall in love with him too, thinking he needs the abuse in his life because he needs Padre Ángel in his life.
Now that’s power.
And that’s what I suffered too.
I was under the control of a grown woman who used her power, her need always for control, and her, unfortunately, rather good skills at manipulation to keep kid-me quiet and keep kid-me scared.
Even though I’m a grown-ass middle age adult now who hasn’t been around this woman in years, she is still manipulating kid-me and scaring the shit out of kid-me, because adult-me will get triggered by some sick shit she did to me for her pleasure and suddenly I’m thrown back into that hell I suffered as a kid again with no way to escape because it lives forever in my heart and my soul now, keeping me, always, down.
Adults can just really suck sometimes.
No wonder I never desired to be an adult when I was a kid and am still more of a kid now than an adult at 45 years old because let’s face it, adults are miserable, grumpy, never, ever satisfied people who do awful shit like sexually abusing kids because they can’t take the time or energy to fix the horrible shit that is wrong with them properly, so instead take their fucked-up shit out on the weak, vulnerable and innocent.
Can I revoke my adult membership and go back to being 10 years old?
I liked being 10 years old.
Life was still bearable when I was 10 years old and I didn’t have to deal with awful shit in the adult world like this.
Anyway, the point is that Perfect Obedience was in many ways the perfect movie for me at the perfect time, because even though I’m fucking pissed off right now and have been using my punching bag during my workouts a bit more than normal, this movie is turning out to be the perfect medicine for me, because it’s high time I was mad as hell about the awful sexual abuse that happened to me, and quite frankly, I’m not going to take it anymore. I guess this is what is meant by “turning poison into medicine”. A phrase that keeps coming at me a lot lately and now I know why.
I don’t know where my healing will go from here, because I’m sure I have a long, hard, awful road ahead of me contemplating and understanding what the fuck happened to me. Even though I won’t reveal exactly what happened to me because I’m still trying to work out that awful and confusing time and situation for myself, I can say it was 99% a game of manipulation, power and control, and thanks to Perfect Obedience, my eyes are wide fucking open to the fact now that–
It wasn’t my fault.
It never was.
I didn’t do anything wrong.
Perfect Obedience comes out on DVD and Blu-ray today, July 10, 2018. It’s also available on Amazon Prime. For more information, check out Artsploitation Films. This movie isn’t for the faint of heart, but I still highly recommend it because it’s been quite healing for my soul and I imagine it will be healing for many other abused souls out there too. Thank you for making this movie.