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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pendulum takes a swing back..
This is a real film of our time. It's a balancing film - seeking to redress the tsunami of cynicism felt by the 'Life of Brian' generation towards religion. Without spoiling the film - it asks questions about what is and isn't important about our twenty-first century lives as the central character forms a solid core around which to cast light on the (at times) facile...
Published 6 days ago by richardjfrancis

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark, dark, dark.
Calvary, watch the opening scene on you tube before renting this. It gets less dark but this is not really in the same genre as The Guard, far fewer laughs. And I certainly don't have the stomach for any kind of humour juxtaposed alongside child abuse. Strong performances but two dimensional characters never wins a viewers affection.
Published 16 days ago by Robbie Henderson


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pendulum takes a swing back.., 22 Aug 2014
This review is from: Calvary (DVD)
This is a real film of our time. It's a balancing film - seeking to redress the tsunami of cynicism felt by the 'Life of Brian' generation towards religion. Without spoiling the film - it asks questions about what is and isn't important about our twenty-first century lives as the central character forms a solid core around which to cast light on the (at times) facile existences of the ancillary characters.

If you want a film to challenge prejudice and raise questions in your head - this is the release of the year.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Confessions, 21 April 2014
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Beginning in the confessional - one of the best opening scenes to any film I can remember - with mighty Brendan Gleeson as Father James hearing, in his words, `the most astounding opening line` he`s been privy to as a priest, this bracingly original film then becomes both a kind of thriller and an exploration of a small, enclosed society, a village in rural Ireland in which the Catholic church and its resident priest (not to mention his tactless junior assistant priest) appear to be almost universally despised.
Gleeson is rampantly riveting in the central role, with Dylan Moran note-perfect as a wealthy alcoholic and lord of the manor - the best acting I`ve yet to see from my favourite comedian.
But the revelation is Chris O`Dowd, who seems to be in everything at the moment. He`s brilliant as the volatile local butcher, his scenes both simmering with danger and totally credible.
The way Gleeson`s increasingly isolated priest interacts with the community is very well portrayed, until you feel that virtually the whole town has a literally communal grudge that is never fully explained, merely implied in the increasing tensions between them.
This is an adult, intelligent and witty film that offers no easy answers while asking some uncomforatble questions, mostly about Catholic culpability - yes, the issue of paedophilia raises its head, in a brilliantly conceived scene with a little girl in which the innocent Father James is left looking openly wounded - and the very position of a priest in these troubling times. Gleeson shirks none of the implications of his part, nor does director John Micheal McDonagh (whose previous film was the enjoyable The Guard, also with Gleeson).
Kelly Reilly, who has the pale, windswept face of a seabird, is just right as the Father`s daughter from the days before his priestly calling, who has problems of her own.
But it`s Gleeson, looking like an Old Testament prophet - albeit an all-too fallible one - who dominates this almost great film. His `calvary` is both inevitable and shocking when it comes, but more than that I dare not divulge.
I`d never go and see a film for its scenery, but it`s worth saying that the film looks stunning, with the eloquently dramatic landscape of Ireland adding an ominous undertone to what is already an unsettling tale.

Highly recommended. Do see this unnerving, passionate film.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film carves images on your soul, 31 May 2014
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
It is now Saturday and I saw the film on Thursday. It is a film I will think about for the rest of my life. The Catholic Church has been crucified by the scandals and this film lays bare it's pain. The pity and anger for the suffering children who have been abused is finely balanced against the pain of the good priests who have done nothing wrong and now are treated with contempt by their parishioners. It reminds me of High Noon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Calvary, 22 Aug 2014
This review is from: Calvary (Blu-ray)
"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.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 27 April 2014
By 
C. Davis - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
I saw this on the cinema last week and have been telling everyone about it ever since. It's totally compelling. I checked afterwards to see if it was based on a novel as I'd have immediately bought it but it's an original screenplay by John Michael McDonagh who apparently also wrote The Guard. Needless to say I'll be buying the latter the next time I'm looking for a DVD! The film was partially shot in County Sligo and friends who used to have a farm there say that some of the characters are worryingly realistic! Though it has many blackly humorous moments this is ultimately a very moving and thought provoking film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what it says on the tin but a must-see anyway - especially if you are connected to Ireland, 21 Aug 2014
By 
Adam Bartleby "Bartleby2009" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
I saw the trailer and wanted to see this film as I have a romantic soft-spot for Irish comedy.

I watched the film and was left somewhat conflicted.

The trailer portrays this as a comedy with hints of black elements. The film itself is black social realism with comic elements - but not that many. It has a cast of comics, but they aren't really playing comic parts. I was left feeling a bit troubled after seeing it.

In fairness, I felt a bit misled, and if I'd written a review straight after I would have given it 3-4 stars. But the film stuck in my mind and, over the week or so, I've come to see it as something of a work of genius.

Why? Because it takes a very serious subject - one that cuts to the heart of anyone connected with the Republic of Ireland - and says something new: much like the State, the Catholic Church in Ireland has a lot to answer for, but it also has a lot going for it as good people join it because they do care and want make a career, or life, out of caring.

I wonder if the Irish comics signed-up to this because it was their opportunity to say something very serious about their country?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and terrible film., 20 Aug 2014
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
A comedy, dark or not, is what it isn't. Brendan Gleeson's acting in the opening scene in the confessional when he's told a parishioner plans to murder him had me gripped. Fr James is a wise man, who's lived through his own personal difficulties, and come out a better human being, and a great priest.
His flock could have come from Sodom and Gomorrah, but he treats people with respect, except for a brief time when he's been pushed to the ends of his endurance, before recovering his self-control before the inevitable final scene.
(A film called "Calvary" isn't going to have a happy ending!)
In spite of all the nastiness of most of the locals, Fr James's strong faith and love do shine light on the darkness, and for some there is a kind of healing.
I should admit that I found one episode so sad that I had to leave the cinema, where I was watching it without any family or friends, but I knew I'd have to watch the DVD both to see the end for myself and to absorb it fully. Which I have now done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, moving, well acted drama, 16 Aug 2014
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
First things first,this is not the 'wickedly funny black comedy' as mentioned on the cover of the DVD. What it certainly is however is a brilliantly acted drama with some humour amidst the thought provoking story. The opening confessional scene where the crux of the story begins is extremely moving in both the reaction of the Priest and the unseen Confessor and sets the seal for what happens in the film. As always the central performance from Brendan Gleeson is a master class in understated acting making you feel the characters sadness and doubts as he sees his community change before his eyes. His relationship with his daughter is particularly well acted by Gleeson and Kelly Reilly. A good ensemble cast give a sense of reality to each different character with Chris O'Dowd and Aiden Gillen particularly good. The ending is shocking, very shocking, make no mistake, and the final scenes emotional. This is a fine piece of film making.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark, dark, dark., 13 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Calvary (Amazon Instant Video)
Calvary, watch the opening scene on you tube before renting this. It gets less dark but this is not really in the same genre as The Guard, far fewer laughs. And I certainly don't have the stomach for any kind of humour juxtaposed alongside child abuse. Strong performances but two dimensional characters never wins a viewers affection.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The valley of the shadow of death has a new shepherd, 22 May 2014
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
John Michael McDonagh burst onto the Irish black comedy scene in 2010 with The Guard, an amusingly obscene odd couple crime movie in which Brendan Gleeson played a crass cop alongside Don Cheadle's fish-out-of-water FBI agent. For his follow-up, McDonagh has created something more substantial, expansive, and moving. If it overreaches in its existential considerations then it never does so boringly - there's always a right angle in the plot lying in wait.

Gleeson's character couldn't be more different to Sergeant Gerry Boyle. Father James Lavelle is an eminently wise and decent man, weathered by grief and a growing disillusionment with a world that has replaced God with nothing. In the opening scene he is told in confession that he will be murdered in one week. Day by day we watch as he interrogates the disparate inhabitants of rural Sligo - a population of wife-beaters and alcoholics who say they loathe him for his sanctimoniousness, but more likely envy him for not losing hope. His ray of light is his daughter, played by Kelly Reilly, who's on the verge of suicide.

McDonagh's outlook appears bleak, but I would say this is a film that explores the nature of bleakness rather than being bleak itself. It's a film about death; how we face life's ultimate given. It's not a comedy. It's not even a black comedy. Characters draw attention to jokes and irony where they arise, acknowledging humour as a defence against the inevitable void. With Patrick Cassidy's aching music, the film is awash with tragedy. But always there is the anchor of the Father: the base camp of goodness to which we return. He embodies true faith, with all its agony and thanklessness and sacrifice.

This is a career-best performance from Gleeson, who expertly portrays every emotion available to man. Reilly's turn is well-judged, while Aidan Gillen, Isaac de Bankole and the dignified M. Emmet Walsh provided fine support. But Chris O'Dowd deserves special mention. His damaged turn is a revelation; subtle yet powerful.

McDonagh's script is intelligent, dense, and unpatronising, even if he does paint in very broad strokes at times. The people who pass before Lavelle's vision are an ostentatiously cynical and/or broken bunch, and it's arguably a manipulative conceit to furnish one character alone with complete power of moral approval. But it's certainly effective in building our sympathy for the priest; and perhaps McDonagh is satirising the nature of Christian morality, so isolating in its haste to judge and condemn. As Lavelle himself concludes: Instead of avoiding sin, perhaps we would all be better off reaching for virtue.
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Calvary [Blu-ray] [2014]
Calvary [Blu-ray] [2014] by John Michael MBrendan Gleeson^Chris O'Dowd^KecDonagh (Blu-ray - 2014)
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