When Alexandre (Melvil Poupaud), a family man and practicing Catholic, learns that the priest who abused him as a boy is still working with children, he decides to report him to the religious authorities of the diocese of Lyon. He first approaches Cardinal Philippe Barbarin (François Marthouret), the Archbishop of Lyon. But when the religious authorities fail to act, Alexandre presses charges despite the statute of limitations. Thanks to the resulting police investigation, he is joined in his fight by some of the priest’s many victims (Denis Ménochet, Swann Arlaud).
This investigative movie by François Ozon is a turning point in the director’s career, previously defined by fanciful fiction such as 8 Women, Swimming Pool, and Frantz. Ozon has given a voice to the very real victims of acts of child abuse committed in the 1980s and 1990s by Father Bernard Preynat (who confessed) while portraying their struggle to publicly break the church’s silence (Barbarin was found guilty of failing to report the crimes). In doing so, he has created a film reminiscent of Spotlight (2015), Tom McCarthy’s Oscar-winning movie about the journalists who uncovered an enormous child abuse scandal hidden by the church in Boston. Ozon even paid homage to the movie in his own work by featuring a poster for Spotlight on the wall of a police station in Lyon.