Wes Anderson Goes to Confession

All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be.
~ C.S. Lewis

Last week, Ben and I went to see Wes Anderson’s new film, Isle of Dogs. Later that night, I dipped into The Screwtape Letters, which I’m re-reading for the umpteenth time. The combination churned in my subconscious as I slept, and this is what I woke up with.

For the proper effect, imagine George Clooney voicing the part of Wes. For the priest, try Gene Hackman, or maybe James Caan.





Camera pans from back of church along side wall, with Stations of the Cross and a St. Joseph side altar, and lingers at traditional wooden confessional. A small green light shines above the confessional door. WES strides into view and pauses in front of the door before entering.


A shadow of a bowed head is visible on the grill. WES enters, closes confessional door, pauses, knees down. In the dim light from the grill, half of his profile is visible, eyes open and fixed. He waits.

PRIEST: Yes, my child?

WES: Bless me Father, for I have sinned. (Pause.)


WES: That is, I think I sinned. I must’ve sinned. I do a lot of things throughout the day, every day, and I’m bound to make mistakes. It’s a consequence of doing anything at all, but it would be worse if I tried to do nothing. If I could do nothing. Which I can’t. (Pause.)

It’s hot in here.

PRIEST: It can get warm.

WES: I know a good HVAC guy. Do you need a good HVAC guy?

PRIEST: No. This isn’t the right venue for networking. This isn’t a family gathering or a cocktail party where you might put in a plug for your unemployed HVAC friend. This is a confessional. This is where you confess your sins. Do you have any sins?

WES: Yes.

PRIEST: What are they?

WES: They’re insignificant.

PRIEST: What are they?

WES: They are lapses that defy my intentions and better nature. They are petty insults to God and creation and all of humanity. They are toy trains going off the rails; they are flecks in a sock that create blisters; they are blatant and small.

PRIEST: That’s true. What are they?

WES: What’s the point? I’ll keep acting and making mistakes, I’ll keep going off the rails. There’s no recourse, is there? Is there hope?

PRIEST: There’s always hope.

WES: That’s what you have to say from your side of the grill, but from my side, I know better. We all know better. We all know that making mistakes is what makes us human. It’s what we all have in common. It’s the one undeniable, irrepressible fact that binds us all together. That and death. To aspire to something different is to invite alienation and isolation. (Pause.)

Do you sin?

PRIEST: Yes. I’m a Christian.

WES: You sin because you’re a Christian?

PRIEST: No. I’m a Christian because I sin. I’m a priest, not a saint.

WES: What’s a saint?

PRIEST: A saint is a sinner who’s arrived. Do you want to be a saint?

WES: Can I want to want to be a saint?

PRIEST: I don’t know. Can you?


(Roll credits)


Of Coddling Demons and Auricular Confession

The demons puzzle us. The pigs puzzle us….
We long to read deeper into the mind of our Redeemer.
~ Frank Sheed

Read more…


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