Home Estate Planning Shia Labeouf continues his downward trend in religious drama Padre Pio

Shia Labeouf continues his downward trend in religious drama Padre Pio

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The unusual career of Shia Labeouf continues with this truly baffling religious biopic. Teaming up with maverick director Abel Ferrara (King of New York), he plays Padre Pio, the Italian priest made into a saint in the mid-20th Century, who was said to show signs of Stigmata (the wounds of Christ on The Cross). The film follows a dual path of exploring the holy man’s internal struggles, as well as a worker’s uprising in his hometown. 

Nearly every element of the film feels at odds with itself. Labeouf doesn’t attempt an Italian accent, and the cast playing the workers speak in Americanised English. In terms of plot, it feels like two films playing alongside each other. The film’s small budget doesn’t seem to be able to handle the scale of the revolt, while the scenes involving Padre Pio are derailed by the very man playing him. 

Labeouf was once considered the next Tom Cruise by Steven Spielberg, who had high hopes for the actor in the late 2000s as part of the Transformers and Indiana Jones franchises. Today, Labeouf’s odd and problematic behaviour offscreen makes more headlines than his work, and the outside world seems to have informed his performance as the troubled lead. At times, it’s difficult to know who is speaking, Padre Pio or Labeouf himself, adding self-indulgence to this movies list of sins. 

Confused and unsatisfying, Padre Pio had the potential to be a gripping religious biopic in the vein of Martin Scorsese’s Silence. As it is, two once-promising talents squander an interesting premise, with the audience being taken to cinematic purgatory. 

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