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Grant Gallicho, Commonweal Magazine

"... What's so effective about the film is not only the skill with which the narrative is told, but also the people involved. Paul speaks intelligently and movingly about how his abuse had changed him, as does his brother Joe. And their parents -- recognizable to any Italian American born before 1980 -- are also powerfully portrayed. ... Hand of God rounds out the often one-sided view of victims the average Catholic gets from reading the news stories. ..."

 

Alex Strachan, The Montreal Gazette

"... It's hard to watch, and just as unpleasant to think about, but the program Hand of God needs to be seen, if only because Frontline approaches the subject with sensitivity and a refreshing lack of hysteria. Remarkably, the film manages to strike a nice balance between faith and anger; the result is both humane and hard to forget."

 

Marie Coady, Daily Times Chronicle (Woburn, Mass.)

"... The story unfolds with humble determination and healing humor, leading slowly but surely to a kind of proud acceptance that hits home with almost any right thinking person. ... Joe [Cultrera] has done his brother proud in the magnificent manner in which he has told his story. ...

 

Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times

"The film is florid in style -- porcelain figurines crushed in a vice, Communion wafers dropped into darkened water and fizzing like Alka-Seltzer -- but Mr. Cultrera remains understated and calm throughout. …

"'Hand of God' is both an affidavit against the archdiocese and a novena to the Cultrera sons' elderly parents, who revered the church but loved their children more. "

 

Florangela Davila, The Seattle Times

"... There's no shortage of material here to make you squirm. Unfortunately, some of the film's power gets lost when the filmmaker veers into near-campiness with some of his footage: photos of priests set amongst fallen leaves; religious statues trimmed in spider webs. The documentary feels long at first but halfway through it becomes a detective story and the ending, in which a bishop tries to prevent Cultrera from shooting footage, is downright maddening. ..."

 

Kevin McDonough, United Feature Syndicate

"... [A] remarkably powerful and personal film about a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest. ...

"Given his past, Paul is surprisingly frank and at times even funny about his grim experiences. Both brothers have every reason to be outraged and angry, but this film is not defined by bitterness. ..."

 

Dorothy Rabinowitz, The Wall Street Journal

"This story ... is that rare thing when it comes to works on this theme -- a film informed by passion without histrionics, and a sober and moving family saga."

 

Claudia Bayliss, South Bend Tribune (Illinois)

"... Joe Cultrera wages, in effect, a war of images -- film of Paul's christening contrasts with water from a stained sink flowing over a photo of Paul at a young age, for instance.

"Those images function as somber revelations about the misuse of spiritual power. ...

"The interviews, especially in the context of the family's own archives, are both disturbing and poignant. ..."

 

Kim Mulford, Cherry Hill Courier Post (New Jersey)

"... It is shared matter-of-factly as if to a family member, through scenes shot while cooking dinner, flipping through photo albums or wandering through the old homestead.

"It's a story that should be heard, if only to understand how much abuse hurts. ..."

Editor's Note: FRONTLINE had originally printed an excerpt from a review by Janice Page of The Boston Globe. That article was Ms. Page's review of the theatrical version of "Hand of God," reprinted in the newspaper to coincide with the FRONTLINE broadcast. Because the FRONTLINE version differs from the the theatrical version, we have removed that excerpt from this page (Jan. 17, 2007).

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posted jan. 16, 2007

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