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Calvary, is John Michael McDonagh‘s  follow up to his unprecedentedly successful first movie The Guard. The first time the UK box office had a film in the top 10 for several weeks that hadn’t actually been released in the UK yet. (Apparently ROI figures are counted too.)  It opens with a priest in confession, his penitent tells him he was abused by a priest as a child and is going to let the world know by killing another, good, priest.  Yeah, this one.  In a week.  We then follow the beleaguered father as he tends to his flock over the following seven days.

What follows is a series of vignettes whee the priest interacts with the denizens of his village. Each presenting their own problems and philosophy, while he counters with his.  I’m sure in the mind of McDonagh, this reads like the Diving Comedy or something.  It doesn’t.  It’s patchy and incidental. The who’sgonnadunnit at the centre is no longer of interest to anyone.  There’s no clues in there, in fact, the priest knows who it is. (And, if you think about the cast, so do we.)  Some of the points crowbarred in there are interesting.  Some hilarious.  The while just doesn’t really manage to pull it off.


And, it’s a big but (boom-tsch!). Standing at the centre of it all, seemingly hewn from the very landscape around him is big beardy Brendan Fecken Gleeson.  As the priest, he manages to pull of the performance of a lifetime (and he’s always pretty damn good). He balances perfectly a man with a past and that which makes a ‘good’ priest.  The troubled ex-whiskey priest, manages to nearly convince that maybe life wouldn’t be so bad if you let god in. you can barely take your eyes off him (which seeing as he central to everything is both actual and figurative).  He lends the whole affair a weight and gravitas is only deserves because McDonagh was smart enough to cast him.


Written by Tony Kiernan

11 May 2014 at 9:12 am

Posted in Film

One Response

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  1. […] any other year Frank or Calvary or The Wind Rises or even Under The Skin could well have been my favourite film. Even a sub-par […]

    2014 |

    01 January 2015 at 12:34 am

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