Amaro, a handsome young priest, arrives in the small Mexican town of Los Reynes to continue his religious training. There he meets devout 16 year-old Catholic girl Amelia and, against a backdrop of drug trafficking and civil unrest, they succumb to temptation and begin a forbidden relationship.
Over the years, the relationship between religion and art has become an increasingly uneasy one, especially within the film medium. However, while the Catholic League denounced this, the most successful Mexican film ever at its home box office, the Council Of Mexican Bishops has described it as "a wake-up call".
El Crimen Del Padre Amaro courts controversy by exposing its religious characters in a less than pious light. Father Amaro (Y Tu Mamá También's Gael García Bernal) breaks his vow of chastity, Father Natalio shelters guerrillas in his rural parish, rebuffing instruction from his bishop, while Father Benito knowingly accepts charity donations from a drug lord.
The central issue is how religious instruction can be interpreted and manipulated. Despite an ambiguous tone, the characters are all seen to be punished as a result of their actions - cast out, impaired, with blood literally and metaphorically on their hands, left with little hope of redemption.
Carrera's Oscar-nominated work is engaging and thought-provoking, observing rather than condemning, and excellently acted.
Reviewed by Scott Russon