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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning
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...
Published 2 months ago by C. Davis

versus
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars solid
This is a good film showcasing that the church in ireland has lost its power and respect with the parish people. I live in ireland myself and i can see this first hand, There was a time here when if you told someone you wanted to be a priest that it would have been deemed as great news, now people would be inclined to say 'what the fxxk is wrong with you',this film looks...
Published 13 days ago by sean paul mccann


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12 of 12 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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7 of 7 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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16 of 17 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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let this cup pass, 23 April 2014
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
On the bleakly beautiful coast of Sligo, Father Lavelle ministers to his eccentric flock of sinners with compassion leavened by dry wit, and tolerates his blinkered sidekick. A widower and former alcoholic, Lavelle is no unworldly paragon of virtue. In the opening scene, a disembodied voice in the confessional box calmly announces the intention of killing him on the beach the following Sunday, not in spite of but because of the fact that Lavelle is essentially a good man. This will be some kind of confused way of obtaining closure for childhood abuse at the hands of another priest. How should Lavelle respond to this threat?

The film follows the course of Lavelle's life for the following week with an element of "whodunnit" in advance. Can we guess the identity of the would-be assassin? This is not really the point, which is whether, in modern fractured and increasingly secular Ireland, the sacrifice or "Calvary" of a Catholic priest can have any meaning. By turns satirical and serious, and overall quite original, the film is patchily successful - some characters are too caricatured and the dialogue is at times somewhat contrived, as in the case of the local police chief's grotesquely camp and sinister lover - or that's what I took him to be.

The one small detail which grated on me was a local corrupt banker's apparent ownership of Holbein's painting "The Ambassadors", which everyone knows to be in the National Gallery, London - I accept this may have been intended as a touch of humour. Overall, the film is worth watching, although it takes a period of reflection to form a judgement on the ending. The musical soundtrack is also good.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunned, 22 April 2014
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Just saw this film at the cinema.From the opening confessional line to the last,I was rivetted.The Sligo scenery was beautifully shot,the music by Patrick Cassidy haunting.The actors were excellent,particularly Brendan Gleeson,Kelly Reilly,Chris o Dowd and Dylan Moran.THe latter two are better known in comedy roles but there was nothing comic here,especially Chris o Dowd in the closing scenes.The role of the catholic church in modern Ireland,its relevance and its paedophilia past,is essentially the subtext of this film.,against the story of a week in the life of the local priest and his reluctant flock.There are some excellent lines but I wouldnt rate it as a comedy.I was moved beyond belief at the final beach scene.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nought but Crosses, 29 Jun 2014
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Despite writer/director John Michael McDonagh's film being centred firmly on the relationship between Brendon Gleeson's troubled priest and his belligerent flock, you needn't worry about being force-fed a pious stream of catholic dogma. McDonagh ably carries off the heavy allegory, despite peopling his film with caricatures, because they are so wonderfully spiteful, their dialogue so charmingly vitriolic, that it's impossible not to be swept along. McDonagh's second directorial feature after The Guard is just as assured, and there are diverting performances by Chris O'Dowd and a pathologically cynical Aidan Gillen among others, it is Gleeson's Father Lavelle who remains the centre of the film. His relationship with his daughter (played by Kelly Reilly), his attitude to his congregation and his predicament remain all present challenges to him, and yet he persists in trying to reconcile these while battling the prejudices of almost everyone around him. Wherever you stand on the outcome, you'll find it hard not to be affected and there's a good chance you will still be considering this thought provoking film when McDonagh's next effort comes out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Entertainment, 28 Jun 2014
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
This is a surprising film in a lot of ways. Whilst I found some of the characters a little unconvincing this was nevertheless a very entertaining film. It’s basically a ‘Who Done It,’ spread over an hour and a half.
Quite how a whole community (bar just a few) are so anti – Father James I really can’t fathom. They are aggressive, insulting and downright disrespectful most of time, though this is never really explained? Most of the characters are ‘extremes’ in one way or another – would you really find all these oddities together in such a small community? It reminded me a bit of ‘The Wicker Man’ with all these strange unhelpful people about?
The difference of course is that Father James whilst being constantly tested and teased by them still has to co-exist with his atheist flock.
As others have already mentioned, the scenery / location is breath-taking and this adds greatly to the film.
As I’ve said previously, this film possibly has too many extremes but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.
.
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1 of 1 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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Confessing Crowd, 1 May 2014
By 
Mr. A. J. Richards "yourbiteall" (Weston Super Mare) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
The Mcdonagh family of film makers are quite simply extraordinary and i was enthralled at John Michael's (the brother of In Bruges Martin) sophomore effort in Calvary. This blackly funny drama looks at faith from differing perspectives and is very unforgiving, never afraid to tell the tales as they are. And Brendan Gleeson gives a masterclass in character acting.
Gleeson plays Father James, a well-respected priest in the Irish town, Sligo, who came to his business late in life ensuing the death of his wife. Whilst performing confession one day, James has his life threatened by a well-known member of his parish who tells the priest the time and place of his approaching demise, and despite knowing the identity of the man in question, refuses to reveal it to anybody.
The film is shot beautifully, focusing in on all the mannerisms of the actors giving their tremendous, pretty much flawless performances and in its larger scope there are some stunning landscape shots with foreboding atmospherics attached. So not only is Calvary a brilliant story but it is surprisingly stunning to look at too for such a low-key movie.
There are some offbeat absurd characters throughout and they all play a part in the mystery at the heart of Calvary. Though i am not sure if Chris O'Dowd pulls his scenario off, in fact if there was one downfall with the movie it is in its finale. Perhaps a little too out of place in keeping with the nuances the film had manifested before a denouement that seems to handle other tropes from other genres.
Theres a torment gong on here that is quite striking as if the film is pulling hard at a political stance but it always focuses back on character and narrative. A mention to Dylan Moran who plays wonderfully against type too.
It is McDonagh’s skill of changing the tone and personality of the piece so astutely, from cold and heartless to funny, and even in moments, embracing, that is Calvary’s greatest strength. its a finely balanced film that never revels in its cynicism or lays on too much sentiment.
In an age where Atheism seems more prevalent it takes a film with religion as a base to strike deep into how people look at their own morals and belief systems. The Guard was a great film but there is much more symbolism and hidden meaning in Calvary. Its a shame that the ending doesn't quite fit but it certainly does not spoil the feeling that a modern classic has just been watched, I must confess.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite films, 15 April 2014
This review is from: Calvary [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Viewers may be surprised as the director of the guard takes a slightly darker turn in his writing , the plot is well layered and intriguing the whole way through, with relatable characters and an outstanding performance by Brendan Gleason ,as well as chris o'dowd, the cinematography is outstandingly beautiful , the writing superb , in my opinion a master piece of film , advise you too see it!
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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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