Parents' Guide to


By Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Brutal drama about sex abuse within the church.

Movie R 2020 91 minutes
Retaliation Poster Image

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A movie about historical sexual abuse within the church is never going to be an easy watch, nor should it be. Malky is a man whose sexual abuse when he was just 12 years old impacts every aspect of his life. It's led to him self-harming -- both physically and sexually -- and being unable to maintain any emotional relationships. But then -- after over 20 years -- he sees the priest who abused him. Malky's world starts to crumble, mirroring the churches he demolishes with his sledgehammer as part of his laboring job -- one of the many examples of symbolism used in Retaliation.

The title is somewhat misleading (in some markets it's called Romans). It's far more character study than revenge thriller. Written by a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, there is an authenticity to the film. However, while the writer is perfectly placed to recount the feelings of anger, shame, and ultimately forgiveness, the material does not naturally lend itself to a cinematic experience. The movie starts in one vein but becomes something else entirely, as Malky begins to make peace with himself. Bloom gives a committed performance in a role that perhaps you wouldn't immediately associate him with. The scene in the confession booth is particularly powerful. This is a hard-hitting movie about a serious subject matter. It just may not take you in the direction you thought it would.

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