The Crime of Father Amaro

The Crime of Father Amaro

Country: Mexico
Release Date: August 16, 2002
Genre(s): Drama
Director: Carlos Carrera
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Ana Claudia Talancón, Angélica Aragón, Sancho Gracia, ...
Awards: Ariel Awards: Golden Ariel; Premios ACE: Cinema - Best Film; ...

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The Crime of Father Amaro

The Crime of Father Amaro - sceneThe Crime of Father Amaro (Spanish: El crimen del padre Amaro) is a 2002 movie directed by Carlos Carrera. It is loosely based on the novel O Crime do Padre Amaro (1875) by 19th-century Portuguese writer José Maria de Eça de Queiroz.

When it was released, El Crimen del Padre Amaro caused controversy on Roman Catholic groups in Mexico who tried to stop the film from being screened. They failed, and the film became the biggest box office draw ever in the country, beating previous record holder, Sexo, pudor y lágrimas (1999).

In the United States of America, the film also enjoyed commercial success; the United States distributor paid less than $1 million to acquire the North American distribution rights, and the film went on to gross $5.7 million in a imited theatrical release in the United States.

The film starred Gael García Bernal, Ana Claudia Talancón and Sancho Gracia. It premiered on 16 August 2002 in Mexico City.


Recently ordained a priest, 24-year-old Father Amaro is sent to a small parish church in Los Reyes, Mexico to assist the aging Father Benito in his daily work. Benito–for years a fixture in the church as well as the community–welcomes Father Amaro into a new life of unseen challenges. Upon arriving in Los Reyes, the ambitious Father Amaro meets Amelia, a beautiful 16-year-old girl whose religious devotion soon becomes helplessly entangled in a growing attraction to the new priest. Amelia is quickly following into the footsteps of her mother, Sanjuanera, who has been engaged in a long-time affair with Father Benito. Amaro soon discovers that corruption and the Church are old acquaintances in Los Reyes. Father Benito has been receiving financial help from the region’s drug lord for the construction of a new health clinic. As well, another priest in the diocese, Father Natalio, is suspected of assisting guerilla troops in the highlands. Meanwhile, Amelia and Father Amaro have fallen in love and have begun a passionate sexual relationship. As things become increasingly more complicated in the small community, the walls around Father Amaro begin to crumble. Torn between the divine and the carnal, the righteous and the unjust, Father Amaro must summon his strength to choose which life he will lead.


  • Ariel Awards: Golden Ariel; Silver Ariel – Best Actor in a Minor Role: Gastón Melo; Best Costume Design: María Estela Fernández; Best Direction: Carlos Carrera; Best Editing: Óscar Figueroa; Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Source: Vicente Leñero; Best Sound: Santiago Núñez, Mario Martínez, Neto Gaytán and Nerio Barberis; Best Supporting Actor: Damián Alcázar; Best Supporting Actress: Angélica Aragón.
  • Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival: Mayahuel Award – Best Actor: Damián Alcázar; Best Music: Rosino Serrano.
  • Havana Film Festival: Best Screenplay: Vicente Leñero.
  • MTV Movie Awards: Favorite Actor: Gael García Bernal.
  • Mexican Cinema Journalists: Silver Goddess – Best Actor: Gael García Bernal; Best Cinematography: Guillermo Granillo; Best Direction: Carlos Carrera; Best Film.
  • Premios ACE: Cinema – Best Actress: Ana Claudia Talancón; Cinema – Best Film; Cinema – Best Supporting Actor: Sancho Gracia.


Directed by: Carlos Carrera
Produced by: Daniel Birman Ripstein and Alfredo Ripstein.
Written by: Vicente Leñero – Based on O Crime do Padre Amaro by Eça de Queiroz
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Ana Claudia Talancón, Angélica Aragón, Sancho Gracia, …
Music by: Rosino Serrano
Cinematography: Guillermo Granillo
Editing by: Óscar Figueroa
Release date: August 16, 2002 (Mexico)
Running time: 118 minutes
Country: Mexico – Spain
Language: Spanish

Amazon’s Review

This controversial film follows a handsome young priest, Padre Amaro (played by Gael Garcia Bernal from Y Tu Mamá También and Amores Perros), who arrives in a small town and finds himself surrounded by hypocrisy and corruption–and also finds himself tempted by a beautiful young woman who confesses that when she “touches herself,” she thinks of Jesus. What makes El Crimen del Padre Amaro (The Crime of Father Amaro) particularly effective is that Amaro is no innocent–he skillfully forces a newspaper publisher to retract a scandalous story about the Church and is willing to take extreme steps to preserve his career. Some of the movie’s harsher digs at the Catholic Church have provoked accusations of prejudice; but though Padre Amaro portrays a world in which no one’s hands are clean, it also finds redeeming qualities in every character. A complex, completely engrossing movie. –Bret Fetzer

From The New Yorker
When the Catholic authorities in Mexico got wind of this movie, which tells of the affair between a young priest and a sixteen-year-old virgin, they threatened to excommunicate its two young stars. Bad move. A curious and aroused public turned out in droves to see exactly how Father Amaro (Gael García Bernal) and Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancón) would go about breaking the seventh commandment. To be sure, there’s a fair amount of steamy sacrilege, but it’s not quite the last tango the trailer would lead you to expect. The director, Carlos Carrera, turns out to be a man of serious intent, portraying the Catholic church as a fallible institution, inextricably linked, for better or worse, to all levels of Mexican society. This is done mostly through the compromised life of an older priest, Father Benito (played, with dignity, by the veteran actor Sancho Gracia), who has a mistress and a cozy relationship with the local drug lord. The story’s many strands require a deft touch, and not surprisingly the movie gets away from Carrera; the second half devolves into soap-opera plotting and scenes transparently designed for maximum shock value. In Spanish. -Michael Agger
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker

Amazon Customer Reviews

The Best of the New Mexican Cinema!!  By A Customer
I loved Amores Perros (once I got over the dog fighting) and Y Tu Mama Tambien – to be honest, I did not expect El Crimen del Padre Amaro to come anywhere close to these two gems. I was happily mistaken. The acting was magnificent, the directing apt, and the setting eminently appropriate to the subject matter. The film, based on a Portuguese novel written in 1875, is very apt not only in the context of the Mexican Catholic Church but also in light of recent events in the North American Catholic Church. The film addresses many issues facing the church – celibacy being the most advertised, but also liberation theology, women’s rights, corruption, and the church hierarchy in itself. Though it deals specifically with the Catholic Church, this film reaches viewers of all faiths, and its relevance to today’s society cannot be stressed enough.

Now on to the more specific comments on the DVD version. I found the *extras* to be interesting, especially the movie trailers, but I found the Making-of to be a disappointment in that it did not offer much insight into the process of making the film. The commentary, on the other hand, I did find to be interesting and useful. Overall, the film itself overcomes any flaws in the DVD presentation.

If you have not seen this film yet, you need to. It will not be 2 hours wasted.

An Amazingly Powerful Film By Grady Harp
EL CRIMEN DEL PADRE AMARO packs a wallop on many levels. Based on an 1875 novel, this story of the gradual downfall of an idealistic young priest sent out into the reality of the clerical world in the small villages in Mexico updated to contemporary times is unrelentingly fascinating, visually stunning, uncompromisingly frank in its stance on Catholic decadence, and directed and acted with finesse. Gael Garcia Bernal continues to mature as an actor and as a screen presence, making his Padre Amaro metamorphose from committed innocent to fallen sparrow in a wholly credible fashion. Despite our sadness with his bad decisions and choices, Bernal is able to keep us with this complex young priest and in doing so we are able to clearly examine the fragmented state of affairs in the hands of various priests tainted with lust, pride, sloth and a bit of each of the seven deadly sins. Director Daniel Carrera knows how to create both spectacular and intimate scenes and he masterfully leads his gifted cast through a more than difficult story.

If there is a tendency to berate this film for its anticlerical stance, then the point of the story is missed. Each of the myriad characters, sacred and profane alike, has a soul of good and one of vulnerability, and given the current tenuous state of the Catholic Church under seige, I think this film helps explain how even men of the cloth can be human. Kudos for Gael Garcia Bernal, Ana Claudia Talancion, Damian Alcazar and all of the fine cast and crew that created this very impressive and disturbing piece of art.

A definite see for Gael fans By lalala
Let me start off by saying I am a huge Gael García Bernal fan. This was the movie to take the cake for me with his acting. His portrayal as a lust-striken youthful priest was so convincing it took my breath away. I was thoroughly impressed with being able to see in his eyes the desire and gradual compromises he disolved to. The movie did dish out some pretty hard-hitting statements about corruption within the Catholic church, but what of it? There lacked a certain something in the film’s commentary, somewhat one-sided, I’ll admit, but I felt this was justified given the story focuses over one man’s plight, between his (apparently shakey) convictions and his new-found desires. The title says it all–it’s about the sins of one man, Padre Amaro. It is not a thorough exposé of all the Catholic church, in which case there would be truths regarding the bad and the good. Now the reason I gave the movie 4 instead of 5 stars, was simple. The ending was anticlimatic in that it seemed to take the easy way out of a big problem created by our protagonist. The film did too good a job building up the problem making you eagerly anticipate the resolution. The way Padre Amaro takes his final step into “the other side” as a priest, was too easy and quick. I wondered how a character who started off so devout to God’s service could not see through his own transparent attempt to explain away his final actions. When people sell out, it tends to be more gradual. Well then again I suppose that’s the limitation of films over books. I would recommend this to those who are not overly-defensive of the Catholic church, who can simply enjoy it as a tale of one man’s flaws. After all, no one’s perfect and that’s called humanity.


The Crime of Father Amaro
The Crime of Father Amaro
The Crime of Father Amaro
The Crime of Father Amaro - scene
The Crime of Father Amaro - scene
The Crime of Father Amaro - scene
The Crime of Father Amaro - scene
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The Crime of Father Amaro Play
The Crime of Father Amaro
The Crime of Father Amaro (Spanish: El crimen del padre Amaro) is a 2002 movie directed by Carlos Carrera. It is loosely based on the novel O Crime do Padre Amaro (1875) by 19th-century Portuguese writer José Maria de Eça de Queiroz. When it was released, El Crimen del...
Posted 20 Sep 2011

Notes: Direct download includes English subtitles

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