The Corruption of Divine Providence is a catechism catechism

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Part mystery, part belief meditation, the charged drama bites more than it can chew

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Possession is problematic. For every time the Holy Spirit enters a mortal vessel, there is at least one example of a demon residing there. And sometimes it can be pretty darn hard to tell the difference.

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It’s a facet of writer / director Jeremy Torrie’s new film, set in a small town in rural Manitoba, population of 191. In the opening scene of Corruption of Divine Providence , Jeanne Seraphin (Ali Skovbye) is in hypnosis and presents all the signs of an evil entity inside – stiffened body, rolled up eyes, stony voice emanating from the mouth of the young woman.

But when she grabs a pen and begins to scribble frantically, the message she scribbles – in French, no less – is a message of peace. Very New Testament. What’s going on?

What follows is part mystery, part drama, part meditation on religion. Torrie, who is a member of the First Nations, brings together in his cast Métis who maintain their traditional beliefs and those who have embraced Christ, in word if not in deed.

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This describes Jeanne’s father, Louis (David La Haye). When she starts showing signs of the stigma – unexplained bleeding from the wrists and temples – he sees an opportunity to make some money and tries to play the local priest against a wealthy televangelist (Corey Sevier) who arrives from Texas. Jeanne’s mother (Elyse Levesque) is more concerned about her daughter’s physical health.

It’s fascinating, but maybe a little overloaded for 95 minutes. I didn’t even get to the part where Jeanne is kidnapped by a stranger who was either touched by God or just touched. And I don’t know what to think of Tantoo Cardinal, whose character claims to follow neither Christ nor First Nations beliefs, but the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Some viewers may need extra catechism to keep up.

There’s also the matter of – let’s call it animal imagery to avoid too much spoiler. They’re clearly computer generated and meant to look creepy, but they look pretty cute. Or maybe it’s by design? And what about the verse: “Watch out, my flock, to the wolf in sheep’s clothing,” from the Texan preacher, whose name is also Peter Wolf? The Lord indeed acts in a mysterious way.

The Corruption of Divine Providence is available on request from May 25.

2 out of 5 stars


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