Sunday, January 24, 2010

"The Offence" (Movie Review)

I've seen many movies that undertook the subject of evil. They come and they go year in and year out. Some do it reasonably well like Hitchcock's 1960 thriller, "Psycho", for instance. However, if anything, "Psycho" tried a little too hard to be frightening, so that, in the end we came away feeling that the subject was one of fear itself more than of the thing that made us fearful. Michael Powell also released "Peeping Tom" in 1960, a movie about a psychopathic photographer/cinematographer who kills women and films them as they're dying. "Peeping Tom" was certainly creepy and disturbing, but in all the wrong ways. The murderer was treated as a poor, misunderstood man whose upbringing molded him into the villain he became instead of recognizing and acknowledging the self-will that must always be involved in the transgressions of man. The treatment of evil in most other films is either too underplayed to make us think hard about what evil really is, or is a typical Saturday afternoon cinema thriller like "The Exorcist" and its myriad of clones which are generally steeped in outward physical manifestations that all too often seem more of an excuse for showing off their latest special effects arsenal than anything.

There are few films which try to show us that "subtle suggestion" that evil plays within all mankind, that essence of a presence which can be felt in your marrow trying to work its way to the outward physical universe as though it's in need of a host to do any real damage to the world. (I'll never forget reading Charles Williams' book "Witchcraft" and his line about how demons "pine for matter", something which still chills me). 1972 brought us, however, what may be the two most notable and praiseworthy treatments of that subtle suggestion of evil within. One was "The Other" about a young boy who seems truly tormented by his own psychopathic inner twin (actually he had a real life twin who had died and which his mind has turned into an inward dwelling entity of destruction).

"The Offence" is the other great film on the subject of evil from the same year. The offence mentioned in the title is that of child molestation. There is a molester loose who not only rapes little girls, he does his best to make it hurt, to make them feel some of his own anguish for childhood traumas inflicted on him early in life. But we'll find nothing of "Peeping Tom" and its misplaced sympathy for the villain. Sean Connery is a police officer/detective who, by God, will have none of that! However, the movie takes a very strange turn during the interrogation, and in the second half of the film we get a real honest to goodness glimpse of what God must have meant when he said to Cain just before he killed Abel, "...sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Let me also echo what many film critics have said before me: Anyone who claims Sean Connery can't act hasn't seen this film! He is nothing short of brilliant in this movie. Having said that however, Ian Bannen very nearly steals the show with his performance as the suspected villain. I can't recommend this one enough.

This can presently be seen for free at if you live in the USA.

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