40 Days and 40 Nights

Josh Harnett. Directed by Michael Helman.
Running Time: 95 mins
Rated: M
40 Days and 40 Nights hinges around the Lenten feast. It's not about giving up traditional lollies and chocolates but not having sex.
Matt Sullivan (Harnett) is not recovering well from the break up with his latest girlfriend. Despairing of the dead-end relationship in which he seems to specialise, Matt is told by Ryan (Pavio Costanzo), his flat mate, to go for more 'sex therapy'. While visiting his seminarian brother John (Adam Trese), Matt decides to abstain from intercourse for the duration of Lent.
His flatmate and work colleagues take bets as to how long Matt's celibacy will last and set about making sure they win.

The entire premise of this film is that sexual abstinence, at any age or stage, is weird, unnatural or 'for losers.' Those in 40 Days and 40 Nights who are publicly celibate are seen as frauds. For example we discover that John is having an affair with a nun. Fr Maher, the parish priest, thinks Matt's vow is a great folly. Even Matt's parents don't encourage him in his Lenten observance.

In one of the most stupid set-ups seen in a film for a while, Matt twice visits his seminarian brother, who is out on a pastoral placement in a parish, in the confessional. No wonder we discover John is a bad candidate for the priesthood for, apart from breaking his vows, he commits sacrileges as well.

The only consolation we can take from this charmless rubbish is that it is lacking in any real humour. It is also pushing it to get to 95 minutes with Harnett using a strange guttural 'take me seriously' voice to stumble through a clumsy script.

Having to watch this film, I think I've done some of my time in the wilderness for next year's Lent and I intend to claim the credit!

Richard Leonard SJ

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