The Crime of Padre Amaro (2002)



Critic Consensus: Though melodramatic, El Crimen del Padre Amaro's critique of the Catholic church is a timely one.

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Movie Info

A priest discovers the path of virtue can be steep, and temptation can demand a heavy price, in this controversial drama from Mexico. Father Amaro (Gael Garcia Bernal) is a young Catholic priest whose mentor, the Bishop (Ernesto Gomez Cruz), expects great things from him. However, like all priests, Amaro must first be assigned where he is needed most, which leads him to the small rural community of Los Reyes, where Amaro is to assist Father Benito (Sancho Gracia). To his shock, Amaro discovers Benito is hardly following Holy Law -- he's having an affair with Sanjuanera (Angelica Aragon), a woman who runs a local restaurant, and he's been helping a drug dealer launder his profits in exchange for large donations to the church, which Benito feels is justified as the funds are being used to build a hospital and orphanage for the poor. Amaro is disgusted with Benito's actions, but he soon discovers his own weaknesses when he falls in love with Amelia (Ana Claudia Talancon), Sanjuanera's teenage daughter. As Amelia finds herself falling for Amaro, she breaks off her relationship with Ruben (Andres Montiel), a reporter. Ruben responds by publishing a story which reveals the details of Benito's dealings with the drug dealers; Benito in turn tries to lay the blame at the feet of noble Father Natalio (Damian Alcazar), whose work with local peasants has been wrongly interpreted as supporting armed revolutionary factions. As Amaro tries desperately to distance himself from the growing scandal, he receives shocking news from Amelia when he learns she's pregnant with his child. The Crime of Father Amaro's portrayal of corruption within the Catholic Church led to an outcry from Catholic organizations, both in Mexico and the United States, where they attempted to organize a boycott of the film. However, the tactic failed in Mexico, where the controversy helped to boost ticket sales, making it the highest-grossing Mexican film ever in its native country.
R (for sexuality, language and some disturbing images)
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Gael García Bernal
as Father Amaro
Sancho Gracia
as Father Benito
Damián Alcázar
as Father Natalio
Angélica Aragón
as Augustina
Luisa Huertas
as Dionisia
Gastón Melo
as Martin
Juan Ionacio Aranda
as Chato Aquilar
Pedro Aemendariz
as The Mayor
Verónica Langer
as Amparita, the Mayor's Wife
Lorenzo de Rodas
as Don Paco de la Rosa
Roger Nevares
as Father Galvin
Jorge Zárate
as Father Mauro
Blanca Loaria
as Getsemani
Martín Zapata
as MP Agent
Rogelio Rojas
as Photographer
Enrique Vasquez
as Assailant No.1
Cristo Yanez
as Assailant No.2
Marina Vera
as Head Assailant
Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
as El Presidente Municipal Gordo
Carmen Giminez Cacho
as Mother Hada
Juan Ignacio Aranda
as Chato Aguilar
Isidra Morales
as Dionisia's Friend
Martha Posternack
as Chato Aquilar's Wife
Ines Cuspinera
as Chato Baby's Godmother
Jose Luis Caballero
as Chato Baby's Godfather
Vanesa Barba
as Chato Baby
Paloma Cobos
as Pleading MP
Enrique Gilardi
as Drug Friend No.1
Jaime Cancino
as Drug Friend No.2
Pablo Hoyos
as Drug Friend No.3
Daniel Posterman
as Drug Friend No. 4
Dino Demichelis
as Drug Friend No. 5
Pedro Armendáriz Jr.
as Presidente Municipal
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Critic Reviews for The Crime of Padre Amaro

All Critics (82) | Top Critics (32)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

For all of the criticisms of the Church in El Crimen del Padre Amaro, Carrera is quick to defend the basic humanity of his characters.

Full Review… | February 14, 2003
Toronto Star
Top Critic

It's not hard to see why Mexican audiences are lapping this up.

Full Review… | February 14, 2003
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 16, 2002
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

A lurid but timeless reminder that the bureaucracies and regulations of organized religion have nothing to do -- indeed are often at odds -- with living a God-ward life.

Full Review… | December 10, 2002
Washington Post
Top Critic

Nothing more than a stifling morality tale dressed up in peekaboo clothing.

Full Review… | December 5, 2002
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Crime of Padre Amaro


Really good movie. Gael Garcia Bernal is a top of the line actor. This is a well made, well written, and well done film.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

One of the most controversial films ever made

Wahida K
Wahida K

Super Reviewer


One of the most provocative, captivating and controversial films of the year. An 1875 novel by Portuguese writer Eca de Queiros is updated to modern Mexico, becoming a slick, well-acted melodrama. The film sparked controversy in Mexico for its portrayal of the Catholic church. Impressive.

Dean McKenna
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

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