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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "The crime of Padre Amaro" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein

The crime of Padre Amaro

Studio: Columbia Pictures
Year: 2002
Rated: R
Film Length: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English, French and Spanish

...lead us not into temptation....

I really put some thought into this. If I was to
be reincarnated as a famous young actor, I think
I would choose to come back as Gael García Bernal.
Here's a young, good-looking actor who has had the
opportunity to play some very erotic roles up
against some of the hottest actresses in the
business. Those of you who took my recommendation
to watch last year's Y Tu Mamá También already
know that Bernal is one of the most promising
international young stars in the movie business.

I was quite excited when I had opened this week's
screener box to find a copy of The crime of
Padre Amaro
inside. I had just heard about
this film through it's 2002 Oscar nomination and
Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Film. I
also was excited over the fact that this film looked
to be another steamy tale full of love and lust,
something I never tire of watching. Truth of the
matter here is that while some may find an abundance
of lust in The crime of Padre Amaro, I am
afraid many people will be somewhat offended by the
film's central themes that deal with a lustful priest,
a sexually curious virgin, a corrupt bishop, pregnancy,
and abortion. It's no wonder that this controversial
film is a tremendous success in Mexico, where it
now ranks as the highest-grossing domestic film in
that country's history.

The film is based on the 1870's Portuguese novel
El Crimen del Padre Amaro, by Eça de Queirós.
The story has updated to present day and set in rural
Mexico. As the film begins, we meet Padre Amaro
(Gael García Bernal), a newly ordained priest who
has been brought to the small Mexican town of Los
Reyes to assist Padre Benito (Sancho Gracia), the
older priest of the parish, who in his years as
the head of the local church has managed to tuck
away a few dark secrets, including the fact that
he has a mistress on the side who runs the local

Father Amaro, who shows surprise at the affair of
his superior, soon finds himself falling for a young
girl (Ana Claudia Talacon) who is continually arguing
with her boyfriend (Gaston Melo). Spiritually devoted
yet sexually curious, she's managed to eroticize both
Christ and his handsome earthly representative. It
isn't long before the handsome young priest is found
fumbling his fingers within her buttoned blouse.

In a side story, Padre Benito is involved with a
kingpin drug dealer, accepting laundered money
contributions. Of course, Benito justifies his
actions as minor necessary evils serving a greater
good -- the laundered money funds a new hospital.

How is the transfer?

Overall, this transfer looks above average. Colors
are nicely rendered and fully saturated, with
accurately represented fleshtones. Black levels
aren't exceptionally deep as the film sometimes
takes on dull tones. I also noticed the appearance
of occasional background noise, particularly in
building walls and various skyline shots. Of course,
I am just being my usual nit picky self here.

The film's Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Track (you
should not watch this dubbed) sounds very spacial
with dialogue that is nicely rendered and clearly
audible. With excellent audio separation across
the fronts, the rears provide some much needed
ambiance to many of the outdoor sequences as well
as adding echo to many of the film's church sequences.
In addition, Rosino Serrano's synthesized and often
choral-filled score wraps itself nicely across the
rear channels.

Special Features

What initially seemed to be an error on MGM's
release of Y Tu Mamá También, has now become
a cruel joke on this DVD. Yes, folks, the
full-length commentary with director Carlos
Carrera and accompanying actor is entirely in Spanish.
Now I ask you, why on earth did Columbia include
a foreign commentary for a English-speaking audience?
Even more disturbing, why did Columbia market this
DVD for Region 1 audiences without giving any
back-cover specs warning of its content? I feel
sorry for Americans who buy this DVD anticipating
the advertised commentary, only to pop the DVD in
and find out its all in Spanish. Will the studios
kindly please advertise the fact that these
commentaries are in a foreign language?

Interestingly, we get two of the same (but separate)
making of featurettes -- one in English and
one in Spanish. Running 5 minutes in length, this
is strictly promotional fare that can easily be
skipped. Nothing is learned here other than the fact
that the filming of the movie was mobbed by fans
who wanted to get a glimpse of Gael García Bernal.

Oh, big whoop! A Poster Gallery gives us
a look at approximately 6 different poster designs
used to promote the film.

The film's domestic and international trailers
are included here as well as a trailer for Talk
To Her
, a film by Pedro Almodóvar. A cast and
crew filmography is also included.

Final Thoughts

Forget the Special Features on this DVD. They are
useless to anyone who does not understand Spanish
and/or doesn't need to see a glossy featurette.

What counts here is the film. That is what I am
selling this DVD on.

As I mentioned previously, The crime of Padre Amaro
is filled with enough sin that it will probably
offend everyone who sees it. Yet, it is the mere
fact that this film dwells into the modern-day
traumas regarding church scandals that makes this
movie powerful and hard-hitting.

If you know what you are getting into before you
rent or purchase this, I promise that this to be
a highly provoking and compelling film well worth
watching. For that reason it receives a HIGHLY

Release Date: April 22, 2003

All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality

Bruce Hedtke

Senior HTF Member
Jul 11, 1999
Nice review, Ron and I agree that some of the central themes might (or will) offend but what made the film so powerful to me was not the illicit affair or the subsequent events that followed. It was the fact that by the end, I felt sorry for Amaro. If you looked at it from the most basic standpoint, by all rights, you should hate Amaro for what he did-he took advantage of a young girl, got her pregnant, took her to a seedy back-alley surgeon for an abortion which ended up killing her.
But for me, I just thought of how heavy a burden it was for this young priest and how he was going to have to live with what he had done for the rest of his life. The way the film delivered on that was exceptional and really spoke of how strong the film was. Definitely a must see.


Julian Lalor

Supporting Actor
Oct 5, 1999
Does the commentary at least have an English language subtitle track? The UK DVD (unlike the US DVD) of Y Tu Mamá También did, which at least makes sense of its inclusion.

Ed St. Clair

Senior HTF Member
May 7, 2001
It's a "Crime" this movie had too be soooooo

At least have subtitles for the commentary track!

Juan C Toro

Stunt Coordinator
Jul 23, 2001
Region 1 DVDs are for North America. Last I checked, Latinos were the largest minority in the US, and they also buy DVDs.

So stop being so surprised to the fact that the commentary is in Spanish.



Supporting Actor
May 11, 2001
Region 1 DVDs are for North America. Last I checked, Latinos were the largest minority in the US, and they also buy DVDs.

So stop being so surprised to the fact that the commentary is in Spanish.
Read his review over again, he isn't the least bit surprised it is in Spanish. It is the fact that this wasn't publicized that surprised him. Spanish or not, the biggest consumer for this product is most likely going to be English speaking, so knowing before hand that the commentary is useless to the English may help dictate whether or not they buy the title.

I think it is definitely a worthy complaint.

Matthew Chmiel

Senior HTF Member
Apr 26, 2000
On a side note to the extra/commentary being in Spanish and not English: with Columbia's release of the German horror film Anatomy, there was a little blurb on the back cover saying: "All special features in German with yellow English subtitles" (or something to that effect).

You have to remember, this film was not produced in America, and Columbia is basically just taking the extras from an already produced DVD in another country.

Rob Willey

Apr 10, 2000
Real Name
Spanish commentaries are fine with this non-Spanish speaker as long as there are English subtitles to go with them. Unfortunately, MGM doesn't usually include English subs, even on the film itself. :thumbsdown:


Ted Todorov

Senior HTF Member
Aug 17, 2000
I am all for the commentary being in Spanish -- why wouldn't it be? But obviously they need to give us English subs, which I gather they haven't...

I think that Purple Rivers was another Columbia DVD with an unsubtitled commentary. Come on guys, if you make the effort to record a commentary, please provide subs -- this isn't rocket science.



Second Unit
Aug 1, 2002
I just finished watching this DVD and indeed the commentary does have English subtitles. They came on automatically when I selected the commentary from the menu.

Ronald Epstein

Senior HTF Member
Jul 3, 1997
Real Name
Ronald Epstein

Now that's interesting. I got no subtitles
(nor an option of) during playback. I'll have to go
dig back into my pile and pull this out to look at
it again.

Thanks for the update. If I am wrong about the
subtitle problem, I'll issue an apology.


Second Unit
Aug 1, 2002
Hmmmm. I don't know. I had no problem getting the subtitles for the commentary. They came on automatically. I just watched a little bit of it. At the very beginning, the director is talking about how he doesn't like having music over the opening credits.

Could this possibly be a problem with the player? I'm using a Panasonic RP62.

Steve Schaffer

Senior HTF Member
Apr 15, 1999
Real Name
Steve Schaffer

Have you tried Y Tu Mama Tambien? I couldn't get any subtitles for the commentary on that disc, player is a Panny CP-72.

James Edward

Supporting Actor
May 1, 2000
Well... I'm not a big extras watcher, but the movie itself-really worthy of the 'Highly Recommended' honor.

It was a tough one to watch- all the performances were so nuanced it made it difficult to visually toggle between the subtitles and the actors. I didn't want to miss a thing.

Did anyone else think that Father Benito was Amalia's biological father?


Supporting Actor
Mar 9, 2002
James: I think the answer to your question is "no". I seem to remember someone said who he was during the movie. BUT, I have to agree, your question made me want to watch the movie again, just to be sure. ;)

I love the movie. Having attended a catholic school for 9 years, I can tell you something...

That darned movie is not too far away from the truth. Everyone in México who watched it had to admit that they all knew that was what was really going on with the church anyway, so it wasn't a big surprise for anyone.

Although I haven't met a Padre like Amaro, I must say IRL (and in Mexico) religion has taken far stranger courses than what is depicted in the film. Take the Opus Dei, for example - if you are not rich or have a nice sounding last name, you are out of the institution.

OTOH, you should have seen the mob fighting against this film's release... the newscasts showing people blocking the movies' entrances while the police removed them was sad and disappointing; the fact that these people didn't want the truth to be shown on screen will never change the fact that, indeed, out there, some Padre might be pretty much like Amaro.

Just my 2 pesos. :)

Aurel Savin

Supporting Actor
Nov 15, 1998
Getting back to the movie review, I thought this movie was pretty formulaic. I didn't think this was original at all.

I have seen this story before, the "forbidden love" story hundreds of times. The fact the main character is a priest might make it more offensive or shocking for some religious people, but otherwise this is pure Hollywood formula storytelling. Change the priest character with a white guy trying to date a black girl in the ghetto and you got the same movie. Sorry to be so hard on this, but I do not see the big deal about what the big appeal is.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that my religion (Greek Orthodox) allows priests to marry. Maybe this why this left me cold, but I just could smell the "formula" storytelling in this movie and it was agonizing.

I am a huge fan of Amores Perros and Y Tu Mama Tambien having seen both of them numerous times, but this movie just dissapoints.

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