Pablo Larrain's The Club is a darkly comic look at the sexual abuse committed by the Catholic church in Chile. Slow-burning, muted colours and repetitive dialogue make The Club a challenging but ultimately rewarding watch.

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Golden Globes and the winner of the Silver Bear at Berlin International Film Festival - The Club's target audience is clear to see. It's not an easily translatable foreign picture like the early works of Alfonso Cuarón. With heavy emphasis on Catholicism and Chilean culture, it's a film that requires patience and an open mind.

The Club tells the story of four ex-priests living together in a secluded seaside town. They are effectively imprisoned for their past transgressions and live by a set of strict rules enforced by a mild-mannered yet authoritarian disgraced ex-nun. Their domestic normality is interrupted by the arrival of a fifth member who disrupts their covert existence.

In an attempt to quell the unrest, a good-looking "new type of priest" is sent to close down the club, or at least attempt to halt the drunken wailing of Sandokan - a destitute fisherman who was abused as a child by one of the priests. The interactions between the characters are often comic in their simplicity. The characters themselves come across as cartoonish due to their belligerence and repetition of denial. Stock phrases are said again and again throughout the film until they lose all meaning like the repetition of prayer in church. It's a technique which is initially frustrating before becoming comic and then finally tragic.

The film offers up some powerful examples of denial and the warped process behind committing gross offences. From sexually abusing children, to cradle snatching, to military torture - the level of repentance seen in the priests is almost non-existent. Their house is a cover-up by the church, for the church indulges this fantasy of innocence. It's a challenging narrative which Larrain executes masterfully.

The cinematography of the seaside town is beautifully bleak and effectively ugly. The town looks like it's been regurgitated from the sea onto the sloping landscape and the beach is only ever shot in an unflattering twilight. The interior shots of the house are muted and often out of focus, a visual attempt to replicate the murkiness and complexity of the widespread scandal and corruption of not just the Catholic church but of Chile itself.

The Club is a world away from the vocal ire expressed towards the Catholic church in Spotlight but its close up case study of the perpetrators of abuse is just as fascinating. Tonally surprising and visually dark, The Club is a drawn out joke with a punchline that raises an inevitable grimace rather than a smile.