Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Kelly Reilly, Aiden Gillen, Chris O’Dowd, Dylan Moran, Isaach De Bankole
Directed by: John Michael McDonough
Synopsis: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.
A film that received positive reviews from nearly all critics when released a couple of months back, and it’s not hard to see why. It mixes a typical who-dunnit thriller with the sweaty, small village intimidation of Straw Dogs. It is full of weird and wonderful characters and Brendan Gleeson as the priest is fantastic in the role of the only seemingly sane person within the village.
The priest in question is told, within his confession box that he will be killed in a weeks time. We find this out within the first minute or two of the film. The rest of the film is a case of he, and us, finding out who will commit the crime and why. To cloud matters, every local he bumps into seems to have some sort of gripe against the catholic church for one reason or another, so we are led to believe that any of them could be capable of murdering this man.
The film then is definitely a commentary on the state of the church, and how the general public currently perceive it after all the child abuse news and over the last few years. Other touchstones include greed, sex, violence and loss of faith. So pretty much every stone is turned at some point.
Calvary is a beautifully shot movie, with breathtaking Irish countryside as the backdrop. It’s well put together and the supporting cast are all great in their own weird and wonderful way. They are definitely playing exaggerated, almost comic, roles which might be offputting at first but soon sit right. Chris O’Dowd (him again) and Aidan Gillen (of Game of Thrones) are particularly good and Isaach De Bankole and Dylan Moran offer some subtle menace. Kelly Reilly and the rest of the cast are more than capable.
I think where Calvary succeeds, apart from it’s great mix of serious thought and dark humour, is the fact that it really does leave you guessing until the end. It honestly could have been any of the motley crew of strange folk with a gun in their hand by the end. By no means was it a cheap ‘twist’ ending where you sit open mouthed in shock as the Priests dog shoots him (“I would never have guessed”!!) but I definitely don’t think you can predict the outcome half way through.
Oh, and Brendan Gleeson. Top, top actor!