DIRECTOR John Michael McDonagh is reunited with character actor Brendan Gleeson in this funny but troubling movie about an Irish priest who receives a death threat from one of his parishioners.
The pair teamed up the first time to make The Guard, one of those offbeat, cultish black comedies that come along every now and again and shake you out of your movie complacency. Calvary is much darker than The Guard, but retains its bleak sense of humour.
Gleeson plays Father James, a widower who has come to the priesthood later in life along with plenty of his own baggage. He has a grown-up daughter (Kelly Reilly) and a past that involved heavy drinking and fights on a Saturday night.
The action opens rather dramatically with a confessional scene. The penitant, who has been abused by another priest, threatens to kill him within a week. Although the audience does not know the identity of the stalker, Father James himself thinks he knows who the would-be killer is.
The script is written by the director himself, and has been praised as sharp and witty, if also pretty angry. The pairing of the two has been likened to other noteworthy movie collaborations, such as Scorsese/De Niro.
This is not a film for the faint-hearted. It’s a dark subject matter and there is pathetic fallacy to mirror the battling of demons. In other words, the weather is always gloomy and overcast. The Roman Catholic church in Ireland has come under fire in other recent movies, such as Philomena and The Magdalene Sisters, but be warned that this one is darker still.