Calvary – not what you expect but a cracker nonetheless


This film starts off with a brilliant example of a script that will not pull any punches. This film is about as Irish as you can get. It is full of Irish actors, it was produced and filmed in Ireland and the Irish film and tourism boards paid large amounts of money for production. However, despite the familiar setting, do not be fooled that this falls into the same category as Mrs Brown’s Boys or Father Ted. If that’s what you’re after then crack open the box sets and enjoy Mrs Doyle telling you to have a cup a tea. Ah go on. If not then get down the cinema for this, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a stark, often bleak and very frank look at Catholicism in rural Ireland. I don’t think it is necessarily  and might give you the odd surprise along the way.

This part is superb for Brendan Gleeson. With him as the protagonist in the film you know you are in for a treat. If you have seen The Guard or In Bruges then you know you aren’t going to be let down. Blimey he’s even brilliant in Harry Potter isn’t he, and the same is true here. He gives a very sincere, open and deep portrayal of a truly complex character that you really feel drawn to as an audience. He is trying to do the right thing in a world that doesn’t really want him to. He struggles as a Father, a Priest and a friend who is becoming very disjointed with the world and his portrayal of a man that doesn’t understand how things can happen in the world he lives in is brilliant. The story of the film focuses on a Priest who is told by an unknown member of his congregation that on the following Sunday he is going to kill him. The film is set over the next 7 days leading up to this showdown.

Another of the familiar Irish faces that pops up is Chris O’Dowd. This role is very different from the others that he has played so far but for me this is a bit of a swing and a miss for him. Maybe it is because he is acting alongside Gleeson but he just doesn’t quite get there in what is a very interesting role.

What I love about this film is that it looks like it must have cost about £6 to make. Because it is so stripped back you can really focus on the characters, the script and THE STORY. The people who made Spiderman 3 with Toby Maguire need to watch this film and see how to do it. What the Dickens was that film about, seven bad guys indeed. Stop it. Anyway, this film doesn’t suffer from any of that, it unashamedly focuses on the characters and the dramatic landscape of the setting, not a hint of CGI in sight. Not that all CGI is bad, not at all, but it’s nice to have a break sometimes.

There are some parts of this film that are a little bewildering. Aiden Gillen of Queer as Folk and more recently Game of Thrones fame (he’s the guy that plays Little finger) plays a character that is somewhat hard to grasp. Not only the character himself but for a while he puts on a random, Christian Bale as Batman style voice. No idea why.

Overall this really is a great film with a brilliant ending. It makes you look at some very trying questions, what place does the church and the priesthood have in modern life? Can the Catholic church ever truly recover the trust of the people after the scandals it has suffered? In the midst of these questions is a stand out performance from Breendan Gleeson which should not be missed.

I give this a 7.5 out of 10. The mis casting of Chirs O’Dowd pulls it down slightly for me. But still, get it watched.



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