A hard piece of drama from the north that will draw tears and chuckles as it makes you question how you live.
A standout in 2014, Calvary looks to dissect the human condition while telling a truly harrowing and emotional story with a typical dose of Irish gallows humour.
Brendan Gleeson stars are Father James, a well meaning priest caught in a post-molestation Catholic Church. At the commencement of the film we find Father James taking confession with an unknown towns member who pledges to kill him for molestation committed against him in his childhood by another of the cloth. Taken aback, the father now must decide his fate, put his affairs in order and deal with a range of tests placed in front of him.
In Calvary we are presented a multifaceted story, we have the “who done it” (or more accurately who is going to do it) mystery surrounding the assailant, we are given a troubled man looking back on his life and a rogues gallery of townspeople, each a victim of their own lives through deadly sins such as lust, greed, envy, etc. Overarching the film is the concept of guilt and penance, while this can be viewed in a very religious sense, it feels more about humanity in general, how each individual has their own cross to bear and how the individual deals with it.
Brendan Gleeson is majestic, his portrayal of a man in his unexpected last week of life is touching, harrowing, somber but at peace. The ensemble cast is impressive and each performs their duty well. Chris O’Dowd plays a fool with an adulterous wife, Dylan Moran as an overly wealthy elite who has lost his family through apathy. Another stand out is Kelly Reilly who plays the priests daughter, troubled due to an estranged father, dead mother and lack of guidance in her life.
Calvary had me in tears in a way few films are able to do. It’s difficult not to become deeply invested in the characters on show, despite their looming flaws. There is an innocence and a misguided optimism in the lives of these small town creatures. For a few hours I felt like a part of their lives.
Calvary will leave you guessing about the potential murderer, and the potential success of their threatened murder as well. The end will effect you and give you reason to think. While not a movie to convert you to faith, the faith is used perfectly as a metaphor for the challenges in our lives and how we make choices.