A good-natured priest in an Irish town, Father James, played by the consistently wonderful Brendon Gleason, sits quietly while a voice in the confessional states that he will shoot and kill him on Sunday next. Father James will pay for another priests’ abuse because the perpetrator has long since died.
And so begins Father James’ search for the owner of this disembodied voice; a seemingly real threat of execution on the beach in seven days. Father James must now spend each day ferreting out the handful of people he believes could be on the list of people that belong to that voice, while simultaneously dealing with those same people’s problem’s.
To say Calvary is a dark film is perhaps an understatement. Yet, it possesses a vein of biting humor, as dark as black Irish humor gets. Dealing with sin, death, mercy and forgiveness, the humor is welcome.
Calvary’s writer and director, John Michael McDonagh, deftly wield’s this dark humor, making magic a second time. He worked with Brendon Gleason on (the somewhat less dark) The Guard, another wonderful film you should all see. The name McDonagh may be familiar because his brother is Martin McDonagh, writer/director of the great film, In Bruges. There’s a lot of talent in these siblings and clearly a couple of guys to look out for. And they both like casting Brendon Gleason which works out great for us viewers.
The cast here is superb, led by the wonderful Gleason, who simply owns this film. There is a deep well of emotion in Gleason’s face. But other amazing actors like Dylan Moran, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aiden Gillan, Domhall Gleason, and the awesome M. Emmet Walsh, are also superb.
Calvary is full of flawed people, Father James included, but he still has faith and is a man of integrity and decency. His struggle to get through this supposed last week is a challenging one, but it won’t be a challenging watch for the audience. Even though it’s not the sunniest movie ever, despite it’s positive overall message, it certainly is worth the watch.
Excellent performances, great script, and a McDonagh directing. Yeah, Calvary is at least a four kittenhand film. I think it’s had a limited release, so I hope you can find it!
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, probably going to have to own this one when it comes out on disc.