After the 2011 black comedy The Guard, Brendan Gleeson reteams with writer-director John Michael McDonagh for a darker comical drama grappling with issues of faith and forgiveness. McDonagh's usual jagged dialogue and snappy characters are on-hand in abundance while the film digs deep through a rather meandering, episodic plot.
In rural Ireland, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is quietly enduring confessionals when one of his parishioners says he's going to kill him next Sunday. Shaken, James begins to explore his faith and mortality over the coming week. His daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly) arrives following another suicide attempt, and he consoles a grieving French visitor (Marie-Josee Croze) and visits an imprisoned killer (Domhnall Gleeson). But almost anyone in the village could be the aspiring murderer: the over-emotional butcher (Chris O'Dowd), drug-addict doctor (Aidan Gillen), ladies-man African (Isaach De Bankole), shifty millionaire (Dylan Moran), eccentric fisherman (M. Emmet Walsh).
Intriguingly, it never really matters who issued the threat (James has a pretty good idea), because that's not the point of the film. McDonagh is exploring bigger ideas here, adeptly mixing riotously funny dialogue with startlingly bleak emotions. The film's languid pace nearly lulls us to sleep, then wakes us up with another sparky scene-stealing performance from the gifted cast. Gleeson is wonderfully muted, expressing more with an exhausted sigh than most actors can manage with a Shakespearean monologue. His moments with Reilly crackle with honest emotion, and the deceptively simple scene between father and son actors Brendan and Domhnall is a heart-stopper.
Continue reading: Calvary Review
Father James Lavelle is a good-natured priest whose life is thrown into confusion and disarray when an anonymous man tells him in confession that he will kill him in a week's time - the only reason being because Lavelle is an innocent man. Of all the shocking things he's ever heard in confession, none have thrown him quite as much as this. Unable to go to the police under the rules of the 'Seal of the Confessional', Lavelle consults his church peers pondering whether it was merely an idle threat, or whether his life really is in danger. In his apparent last week in existence, he scrutinises the corrupt individuals of his sin-filled parish, wondering along the way why people seem to focus more on their vices than their virtues, but when his beloved church is burnt to the ground, his views on good and evil become distorted.
'Calvary' is the darkly comic drama about the timeless story of good and evil, and guilt and innocence. It has been directed and written by BAFTA nominated John Michael McDonagh ('The Guard', 'Ned Kelly') and is set in Ireland's beautiful West Coast countryside. The film is set to be released on April 11th 2014.
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