Brendan Gleeson is an Irish Catholic priest who is told he has roughly a week to “make his piece with the world” before he is murdered as a statement against the child rape culture in the Catholic Church.
This is a real case of a film being mis-sold. The trailers and the posters would have you believe it’s a dark comedy, and that you will be laughing non-stop throughout. Well, it is dark. And there are funny moments, but you will not be laughing throughout. Really it’s not a comedy at all. But it is absolutely fantastic.
As the film plays out, it becomes clear that it’s not so much a story as a small world that you are being invited into. A world that is so beautifully shot it does for Ireland what the Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand. And as the characters never leave this world, not will you as the viewer. Each character’s sub-story will completely engross you, with a level of character development deeper than you get in most television series in only 96 minutes. You will finish the movie thinking that you would have happily watched three hours of Brendan Gleeson interacting with the locals of this gorgeous Irish village.
The real reason it is so captivating, is down to the performances which are superb. Brendan Gleeson proves once again that he is a terrific actor who is horribly underused in Hollywood. Chris O’Dowd shows that he is not just a comic actor, playing his part in one of the most emotional moments in this year’s cinema. Even actors that are essentially reduced to five minute scenes put in extraordinary performances, and actually Domhall Gleeson and Owen Sharpe performing some of the film’s most potent moments. Kelly Reilly and Orla O’Rourke are other stand-outs from the movie.
The cinematography is the other thing that will stick in your mind the most coming out of viewing this. It is absolutely incredible. Rarely do scenery shots manage to capture emotions quite as well as they do here in Calvary. The score and the camera work blend together brilliantly, and you can almost feel the countryside as you sweep across it.
Overall, if you didn’t know after The Guard that John Michael McDonagh was a fantastic writer/director, you certainly will after seeing Calvary. A must-see.