By Kate Kight
Washington DC (The Hollywood Times) 2/13/18 – Catholic is derived from two Ancient Greek words that translate to ‘universal’, a religion meant to encompass the world through peace and forgiveness. Born in blood and oppression, the Catholic church has outlasted empires and spread across the continents to become a dominate political and religious force.
In Created Equal, that force meets its match in Sister Alejandra Batista. Edy Ganem is open and honest as the sister who believes she has a divine calling to be a Catholic priest. As a teacher inspiring young schoolgirls at a low-income school, Sister Batista is quickly established as the young ingénue with dreams in need of rescuing. Young, hotshot lawyer Tommy Reilly is her womanizing, profit-hunting contrast, and despite his surprisingly quick willingness to give up his career and family to fight for Sister Batista, his character makes a compelling arc across the film. The faith he finds through his work is not the faith born of tradition and dogma, but faith that through good works and a commitment to justice, it is possible to bring the laws of god and humans in concert.
The breakout star of Created Equal is Judge Watford, whose calm yet canny presence on the bench anchors the viewers between the mundane and divine worlds within which this film treads. Early on, he reminds us that the laws of Western men and western gods both promised equality but failed utterly to deliver it, a tension that is echoed in his final ruling.
The failings of the Catholic church are represented in the films three central villains, the menacing failed priest who terrorizes our heroes in his misguided fury, the managing partner who tries to settle the case in fear of losing his standing in the community, and Monsignor Renzulli, the dogmatic opposing counsel whose rich robes and opulent surroundings put him in instant contest with Sister Batista. It is clear irony that the deadly sins of wrath, pride, and greed are all embodied by the characters who purport to represent the Catholic Church.
In essence, the movie is much like Sister Batista, earnest, open, and impossible not to root for. Regardless of your experience of the Catholic faith, the southern setting and abundance of mediocre yet confident white men (even our hero falls deep into this trope) reflect the injustice that permeates all of our society. We have not yet broken the “stained glass ceiling” nor have we broken many other glass ceilings (we could have seen more of Jane, the beleaguered female lawyer who chooses to abandon the fight too early) but as Sister Batista says, “this allows us to fight another day”.
And to those who find themselves torn between the laws of god and the rule of law, Tommy and Aly’s story reminds us that justice is at the heart of religion and civilization. Evangelism is not the sole province of a few, but everyone has a role to play in spreading the gospel of a better, more equal future.