According to Matthew premieres

The latest Sri Lankan English movie According to Matthew starring the former Miss Sri Lanka Universe and Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez had its opening night at Regal Cinema on 23 November.

Directed and produced by Chandran Rutnam, this is a dramatic narration of the scandalous case of Rev. Matthew Peiris and the murder of Russel Ingram and Eunice Peiris.

According to Matthew is a tale that captures the despair of sexual abuse, exorcisms and the all too human motives behind murder.

Speaking about the movie and its significance in the social context, Director Chandran Rutnam said: “We are humbled by the opportunity to share our film, and an interesting part of history, with the international film community. We hope they are inspired by our message that aims to empower women to stand together against abuse and manipulation, finding their strength, no matter the circumstances.”

Set in the 70s, the narrative is centred on Father Matthew Peiris, and his life following his fame from exorcism and other religious activities.

The plot follows the lustful engagement between Fr. Matthew Peiris and Dalrene Ingram which leads to the conspired murder of their respective spouses.

The star studded cast includes Alston Koch as Fr. Matthew Peiris, Jacqueline Fernandez as Daphne Reynolds (Dalrene Ingram), Kian O’Grady as Randy Reynolds (Russel Ingram) and Bimsara Premaratne as Eunice Peiris.

With the striking performance of Alston Koch and the depiction of a worthwhile message, the production was set up to be a clear winner. The series of innovative and aesthetic shots and a remarkable soundtrack are definitely noteworthy in the movie.

Considering the fact that the story is quite popular among Sri Lankans, though, it was unfortunate to note that the story-telling itself was rather humdrum, making it difficult for the audience to attach to any single character, with the clear exception of Fr. Matthew Peiris himself.

The movie, however, is a great way to address the issue of sexual abuse by people of positions in power, including the clergy. The premiere was filled with eminent members from the cinema industry and movie critics. Everybody was pleased with the presentation and production.

Here’s what they had to say:
Chanakya Jayadeva: “It was a wonderful movie; however, I personally think the dialogue could have been better. It felt very textbook like. I wish they were a little creative with it.”

Kalani Manamperi: “I really enjoyed it. It was a very creative movie, very intriguing and a very sensitive matter discussed with integrity. I believe we need more productions like this in Sri Lanka.”

Gaston de Rosayro: “Chandran has a beautiful mind and I am so glad that the country gets to see this. This is a beautiful creation. The narration was very powerful; the music was very strong as well. Overall, it was a wonderful movie. I absolutely loved it.”

By Dimithri Wijesinghe

Photos: Indika Handuwala