Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Isaach De Bankolé, M. Emmet Walsh, Marie-Josée Croze, Domhnall Gleeson, David Wilmot, Pat Shortt, Gary Lydon, Killian Scott, Orla O'Rourke, Owen Sharpe
Synopsis: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual references, language, brief strong violence and some drug use
9 / 10
- Great story chalked full of interesting concepts about life
- Character interactions allowed for some deep insightful moments about life and spirituality
- Great direction
- The cinematography was excellent
- Acting was good
- Brendan Gleeson was amazing in his role, as the priest trying to do the right thing
- The setting for the movie was great
- The film tends to drag it's feet a lot, which makes "Calvary" seem like it's over three hours long; even though it's only a hundred minutes long.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone....
"Calvary" by far is probably one of the most interesting films that I've seen in a long time. Although I doubt this movie will appeal to most moviegoers, but "Calvary" has a deep story that's chalked full of interesting concepts about life.
The film focuses on an Irish priest named Father James (Brendan Gleeson), who entered the priesthood after the death of his wife. The film starts off with him as he takes the confession of a random person, whom we never find out the true identity of until the end. The mystery person tells Father James about his past, and how a priest sexually abused him when he just a boy. The man rants further by saying how it bothers him that he never got his revenge against the priest that allegedly ruined his life.
The two converse for a bit, but it ends with this random person threatening to kill the priest in a week. Unlike the pervert that molested this mysterious man when he was a boy, Father James is actually an honest priest that genuinely believes in his profession. Although the other priests around him seem a bit less than noble to their cause, Father James remains diligent in his pursuit to help others; even towards those that show him nothing but hostility merely because of the cloth that he wears.
But if Father James is such a good man, then why does this mystery man want to kill him? It's because he wants to make a statement against the church, and he feels the only way to do that is by killing an honest priest. A priest that hasn't wronged anyone. Just like he never wronged anyone when he was a boy, yet that deviate pervert in the cloth raped him anyway. Sadly, Father James just naturally fits the bill, so he only has one week to get his affairs in order.
Given this early scene, one might think the story would lead itself to be something of a mystery thriller archetype, where the protagonist would struggle aimlessly to find out who the mystery killer is before they can carry out their wicked act of violence. But, you'd be wrong to assume such a notion. Sure, there's a few scenes here and there, where Father James talks to one of his colleagues about the threat in question, but he refuses to alert the authorities about it. Claiming he already knows who this mystery person is, but the film itself never reveals the killer's true identity until the third act.
Instead, we see Father James go about his business, as he tries to help others around him anyway; in spite of his troubles. Even without the opening premise, the interactions that Father James has with these people offer deeply insightful moments about life and spirituality; without the need to shove pro-religion down anyone's throats. Sure, Father James is highly dedicated to the Catholic Church, but he's not too shy to point out some of the faults about his colleagues either.
Through each interaction, we learn a little bit more about Father James, and some of the inhabitants around him. Although most of them act rather disrespectful towards him, he continues to keep his faith about what he does because he feels that those that give up on their faith so easily never had that much to begin with. It's a strong message about life that anyone can relate to; even if you're an atheist.
It's easy to give up something easily in the face of adversity, but blessed are those that maintain their principles and beliefs in times of intense hardships.
"Calvary" can be a bit graphic in it's depiction human nature, but it also offers a lot insightful moments that'll stick with audiences long after they've seen it. Apart from a few pacing issues where the movie needlessly drags it's feet, "Calvary" is arguably one of the best films that I've seen all year.
Brendan Gleeson does a fantastic job in this feature. Portraying the quiet refined dignity of a man of the church, while still conveying moments of weakness and compassion whenever the scene commands it.
"Calvary" may not be getting all the buzz like most Hollywood blockbusters such as "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "When the Game Stands Tall", but it has substance that'll challenge our perceptions about life. A story chalked full of deep insightful moments that'll stick with it's audience long after they've seen it. Definitely worth checking out for those yearning to see a great dramatic film.
© 2014 Steven Daniels