Movie Ratings, Family Movie Reviews & More!

Diary of a City Priest

MPAA Rating:

PG-13


Run Time:

77

Cast

David Morse

Thomas Ryan

Still shot from the movie: Diary of a City Priest.

Read Review

Reviewed by

OverallB+
ViolenceB-
SexA-
LanguageB
Drugs/AlcoholC
Run Time77

Making the Grades

In spite of twenty-four years of experience, Father John P. McNamee (David Morse) still feels inadequate as a Catholic Priest serving in a troubled Philadelphia neighborhood. The talented seminary student passed up more prestigious opportunities to take on the job of "the lonely guy in the 'hood, doing the work no one else is willing to do." However, as the years pass, he isn't certain his faith and sacrifice have had any positive or lasting impact on the world around him.

Instead his days are a constant stream of collecting then distributing donations, trying to repair aging boiler systems, running a charitable school on few funds, and facing the unfixable problems of poverty and substance abuse. At the beck and call of both the devout and those only looking for a hand out, Father Mac (as he is called by his parishioners) is stressed out, sleep deprived, and spiritually weary. In an effort to find some meaning in his life's work, he decides to write down his thoughts in a journal.

As the narrator makes us privy to these ponderings, we discover it isn't his religious beliefs that are in question, but rather his ability to practice what he preaches. He is regularly confronted by his shortcomings, including late one evening after a lengthy stay in the Night Court lineup where he has come to testify on behalf of a wayward member of his flock. Accidentally leaving his overcoat in the waiting room, he returns to find one of the other defendants has claimed it during his absence. Although he is uncomfortable demanding its returned, the minister is sure his motive has more to do with Christian duty than true Christian love.

At this point, as in several of the other meditating moments in his story, the struggling priest is visited by one of the Saints whom he has long admired. Real or imagined, these visions allow Father Mac to discuss his deepest fears, and to find wisdom and insight from the sage ghosts of ages past.

Based on the book written by the real Father John P. McNamee, Dairy of a City Priest recounts snatches of inner city life without excessively harsh depictions. It also includes a few profanities (uttered by clergymen) and some rationalization of rather unorthodox uses for church funds.

The biggest deterrent for viewers is the movie's slow pace, scanty musical score and many technical glitches. Whether by design or just the result of a low budget, these contribute to the production's "bare bones" feel. But what it lacks in polish, the film makes up for in sincerity, thanks to an outstanding performance by David Morse.

Although Father Mac wonders if his journal writing has merely been "a lengthy personal confession useful to no one but me," his questions about the purpose of life are universal, regardless of vocation. And like poetry, the answers found within his musings may be more meaningful after a few days of thoughtful contemplation.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Diary of a City Priest.

Father Mac’s colleague is obsessed with the rationing process on the day they hand out Thanksgiving turkeys. What do we learn about the effect of attitude upon charitable service from this scene?

What do you think St. Therese meant when she reminded Father Mac; “There is enough for each of us to do working on our own hearts and in our own neighborhoods.”

Check out this movie’s very informative web site to learn more about this production, Father John P. McNamee and his book, as well as the many religious figures that are quoted or portrayed. http://www.itvs.org/diaryofacitypriest/story.html

Canadian Movie Ratings

BC
SK
Not Rated
AB Not Rated
MB Not Rated -----
ON Not Rated
QC Not Rated
NB
NS
NL
PE
Not Rated

Canadian Home Video Rating: NA

Add Your Comments

Commenting is restricted to members only.
Please log in below or, if you're not yet a member, please register.



Forgot password? | register

Please note: So we can maintain a website with content appropriate for all ages, we moderate all comments and will edit profanities, slanderous remarks and other inappropriate language. For these reasons, your comments will not appear immediately.

There are currently no comments on this review. Be sure to add yours with the form below.

You May Be Interested...

Watch Newest Videos