"Diary of a City Priest" - anyone seen?

I saw the DVD of this indie film (it was featured at the Sundance Festival) in the library and had never heard of it before, but picked it up and watched it. It stars David Morse, who is a good actor I’ve seen in a lot of things over the year (St. Elsewhere, George Washington the in the HBO series “John Adams”, the scary cop who hounded “House”). This 2001 film is based on a memoir by an inner-city parish priest in north Philadelphia, John McNamee, and I thought it was quite moving and a realistic look (I think) at a parish priest’s life. It’s a little slow moving, but fascinating, as he deals with self-doubt, struggles with faith, loneliness, the constant demands and concerns of the parish and the problems of the neighborhood. Morse is excellent and captures the humanity of McNamee. There are no big dramatic moments, just the daily flow of his life. There are some dramatized conversations with the saints that I understand were not in the book, but I felt these were a realistic way to depict the internal conversations and prayers we all tend to have, and which stand in counterpoint to the night court appearances, boiler repairs, demands for charity, and sacraments that occupy his life. This is well worth watching, and will make you appreciate your parish priest a little more.

Oooh, sounds like an urban and cinematic paralell to Georges Bernanos’s novel “Diary of a Country Priest”: no real over-arching plot, and it pretty much consists of journal entries written by a young priest in a tiny parish in rural France. I’ll have to check this one out! Thanks!

Yep, I saw Bresson’s film based on that novel years and years ago, and I think the book this film is based on is modeled on the book (but was an actual diary kept by the priest). (I remember reading an obituary for the actor who played the title role in the film “Diary of a Country Priest” earlier this year.)

Thank you for mentioning his recurring role on “House.” The movie is in circulation at the Phoenix library.

Well, it’s back in circulation now! I returned it to the library this afternoon.

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