This serious Polish drama, loosely inspired by a real-life story of an unqualified young man successfully passing himself off as a priest, is gripping from the start.

We are in a crowded and somewhat grey carpentry workshop for young men before the camera swings around to show a source of commotion – a youth being ferociously beaten in the background.

Corpus Christi

In the foreground, a youth with an intensity about his eyes serves as lookout, his face bathed in golden light from a window. This is Daniel (Bartosz Bielenia), who’s near the end of his time in juvenile detention. Preparing to leave, he quickly learns his criminal record has already hobbled his future. Told by the detention centre’s priest he has no chance of becoming a seminarian, he sets out for a sawmill that takes youths with criminal records.

One look is enough to tell Daniel this is no future, so it’s off to the local church where he meets a young woman. Soon he’s meeting the girl’s father, who turns out to be the local priest. At this point...