Deliver Us aka Libera Nos – documentary, Italy, 2016 – reviews

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Deliver Us aka Libera Nos is a 2016 Italian documentary by Federica Di Giacomo.

Claims of satanic possession are increasing around the world. In meeting the demands of those desperately seeking help, the Catholic Church responds with the solution they’ve employed for centuries: exorcisms.

A new wave of exorcist priests is being trained, while veteran Sicilian priest Father Cataldo maintains his stern, diligent practice of the controversial method. His weekly mass is filled with those seeking a cure for the demons they feel they have within them. They cling to the power of their faith as the ultimate source of inner peace but whatever the root of their anguish, it’s evident many are suffering.


It’s here that you start to see the true cost of deliverance. As priests attempt to cast Satan back down, the business of exorcism continues to rise…

Review:

Let me start by saying, I’ve always considered The Exorcist (1973) laughably absurd. Not due to the steely faith at its core; not due to the acting; and not due to Friedkin’s direction. It’s the visual hyperbole, which has been copied ad nauseam ever since, that sends me rolling. A jig-dancing bed, a floating twelve year-old girl spewing green bile and foul-tongued filth like the saltiest of sea-worn sailors, and gleefully painful crucifix masturbation; these elements are simply so far over the top, they could cause Eddie Izzard to be nostalgic for less flamboyant times.

For those expecting similar concept-chewing in Deliver Us, you’ll be sadly disappointed; there’s no split-pea projectile vomiting, no 360 degree head rotations, and no bent-over-backward scuttling down stairs. There are people with deep emotional problems and people looking for connection, and if you’re generous, people who may actually believe themselves to be possessed; some writhe on the floor, growling and hissing, but not beyond human capability; some toss out a curse or two, yet the stingers are blandly mild compared to what’s found in the average movie these days.

One case which is slightly compelling concerns the woman who becomes catatonic during moments of religious expression and who occasionally creeps about on the floor like a cat, but who has been to numerous psychologists and medical doctors who claim there’s nothing wrong with her. Not Hollywood ostentatious, yet curious nonetheless. There are also the workaday priests who try to help people through all of these iterations. Lost souls arrive at their churches, desperate for blessings and exorcisms to cure their ills, yet being overwhelmed, the priests must turn many away.

Lacking flash and, in many respects, quite humdrum, Deliver Us presents the exorcist’s life, as well as the lives of believers, with surprisingly little excitement. The problems are common, regardless of their origins and expressions; the workload is burdensome and tedious, just like it is for everyone. However, office humour can be found here, as well. The film is obviously not a pulse pounder, yet it’s still a mildly interesting slice of rural, Old World life and the problems that come with wanting to be both an outlier and insider.

Ben Spurling, MOVIES & MANIA

Other reviews:

“The camerawork by Greta De Lazzaris and Carlo Sisalli is incredibly unobtrusive, but Liberami is not content to only observe the people around: Di Giacomo succeeds in showing not only the priests’ actions, but also the deepest concerns of those treated by them. Intimate conversations bring context and feeling to an already touching situation.” Stefan Dobroiu Cineuropa

“There is a repetitiveness to certain scenes, and some audiences will likely find elements exploitative, though the real exploitation comes from the priests, with their mumbo-jumbo about possession when what their duped parishioners really need is therapy and meds.” Jay Weissberg, Variety

“As deftly and elegantly spliced together by editors Aline Hervè and Edoardo Morabito, Liberami moves between moments which are equally revelatory, absurd, thought-provoking and moving. When it’s not sharing private chats between priests, including at a conference for exorcists in Rome, it’s capturing the unguarded emotions of those requesting their help.” Sarah Ward, Screen Daily

Filming locations:

Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Trivia:

The film was originally titled Liberaci dal male and then Liberami.

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