Thursday, August 14, 2014

[Review] Calvary

Father James (Brendan Gleeson) sits in a confessional box, and a voice from the other side informs him, "I was raped by a priest when I was 7 years old... This went on for 5 years." The voice continues, "The man's dead... What good would it do anyway if he were still alive? There'd be no news... There's no point in killing a bad priest... But killing a good one? That'd be a shock... People wouldn't know what to make of that... I'm going to kill you, Father... I'm going to kill you because you've done nothing wrong... I'm going to kill you because you're innocent... But not right now though... I'll give you enough time to make your peace with God."

This intense and troubling dialogue sets the tone and premise of the film within the first few minutes. Calvary is John Michael McDonagh's follow-up to to the black comedy, The Guard, and it's on a drastically different wavelength. Calvary is a starkly complex drama and a finely wrought character study with hints of humor that barely lighten the weight.

Following the confession, Father James strolls around the ever-so cloudy small Irish town in order to converse with various eccentric members of his congregation, investigate the voice he heard, and seek advice (as well as protection). Yes, the majority of the film is just a lot of talking, but they're worthwhile discussions. The script is filled with a plethora of loaded lines and philosophical exchanges, mostly in the form of questions.

But the fact that the film is mostly talking--makes it a bit tedious, from a cinematic sense. However, Gleeson's acting is truly something to behold (he makes it look so easy), and supporter Chris O'Dowd gives the best and most serious performance of his career. I really hope to see O'Dowd do more stuff like this in the future.

As the grey sea waves crash, Calvary's extremely powerful ending astounds--when it does finally arrive.


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