Top positive review
57 people found this helpful
on 22 August 2014
"Calvary" is the second collaboration between director John McDonagh and actor Brendan Gleeson. It concerns a priest in a village on the West Coast of Ireland whose life is threatened in the confessional by someone who claims to have been sexually abused by a priest as a child. Brendan Gleeson's priest is not threatened because he is suspected of similar abuses but specifically because he is a 'good priest'. He is given a week to put his affairs in order, after which he is told he will be killed.
All of this happens in the opening minutes of the film, setting the stage for what is essentially a who-dunnit before the actual crime takes place. You are introduced to numerous quirky, colourful characters who inhabit the village, any of which could have been the anonymous voice from the confessional. As the week goes by its clear the inhabitants of this village are far from good catholics, and there is an obvious moral decay in the community. All of which makes a lot of sense, as the title "Calvary" refers to the place where Christ was crucified, and Brendan Gleeson's priest becomes almost a Christ like figure, taking the blame for the sins of others.
If this sounds rather heavy going it's lightened by John McDonagh's wicked sense of humour and there are a number of scenes that are laugh out loud funny. If you liked the humour in his first film "The Guard" you will find the same style here. Brendan Gleeson is very good, as usual, able to portray the doubts and compassion of his character with equal depth. One criticism I might make though is that several of the other characters are portrayed by well known comic actors and their acting abilities are not quite as convincing in a film like this as opposed to a more light hearted sit com.
Overall though "Calvary" is an entertaining yet thought provoking movie which raises a lot of questions about life, religion and morality. It's got enough humour in it to prevent it from being too bleak and in contrast to the dark tone some of the shots of the local landscape are quite beautiful. I would highly reccomend seeing this film as an insightful and intelligent piece of cinema.