Delivering a fictionalised version of the events surrounding the investigation into historic abuse within the French Catholic Church is never going to be an easy job or indeed light-hearted fare. By the Grace of God is at times harrowing and, surprisingly, a somewhat hopeful story by the end.
The films release has been surrounded by controversy as François Ozon has attempted to bring By the Grace of God to the public due to being challenged by the priest at the centre of this story. Thankfully, this tactic did’t work and the film is free to be shown. It is really well constructed and the performances (particularly Melvil Poupard and Denis Ménochet) are full of emotion as the, now grown-up, victims begin to come to terms with the happenings of their youth and the fact that they aren’t alone in this fight. Technically it is all superbly done, using appropriate flashbacks and weaving multiple storylines together to bring the many protagonists into line for the main thrust of the narrative.
Lacking a bit of the bite and realism of the similarly pitched Spotlight, and without a sure resolution the end of the film peters out as it runs into a kind of epilogue and it feels like it is slightly overlong.