CALVARY | MOVIE REVIEW

CALVARY is one of the zillion films Kernel Andrew hit up at the Sydney Film Festival and one of his favourites. I have to say the trailer looks amazing and I really need to see THE GUARD, I own a copy but am yet to watch it – need to bump it up the list so I can see this one when it releases. CALVARY is releasing on July 3 in Australia at most art house cinemas. It is being released by Transmission Films, runs for 100mins and is rated MA15+. If you are interested, I was curious and had to ask why CALVARY was titled CALVARY, I thought it was the town the movie was set in, but no, it has deeper meanings, religious people will probably get it, I am saving myself for eternal damnation being gay and all. BUT, Calvary is the site outside of Jerusalem where they used to crucify people, Jesus included. Enjoy Kernel Andrew’s review below……….all the best………JK. 

 

CALVARY MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
CALVARY | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY ANDREW BRUSENTSEV

CALVARY is the second movie (of a proposed trilogy) that teams up Brendan Gleeson and the filmmaker / writer Michael McDonagh. Their first movie THE GUARD was a critical and commercial success. It was one of my favourite movies of 2011 so I was very keen to see the results of their second collaboration.

The movie starts with a fantastic quote from St Augustine “Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned” this is a great opening statement to the movie which really is about guilt and the assignment of blame by human agencies.

 

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CALVARY | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | FIONA REVELLE (KATHY REILLY) & FATHER JAMES LAVELLE (BRENDAN GLEESON)

 

The movie begins in the confessional where we see Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) hearing confession from an unseen man. We hear the man recount horrific abuse dealt upon him at the age of seven by a priest. The shot on Gleeson is held for an eternity and Father James’s expressions show what a fine actor Gleeson truly is. Ending his confession the detached voice warns that he will kill him on Sunday, which is a week away. He will be killed not because he is a “bad priest” but because he is a “good one.” He leaves by letting Father James know he has a week to put his affairs in order. This is the opening jarring moments of the movie.

What follows is a portrayal of Irish rural life and the community that calls this particular township home. We see Michael McDonagh’ s fascination with the sins unseen behind closed doors that go on all around us. Is anyone truly innocent? We explore themes of wife-beating, alcoholism, theft and suicide. Most characters look initially to be filled with eccentricity and levity but deep down, after further examination, are either tormented or verge on the psychopathic.

 

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CALVARY | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | FATHER JAMES LAVELLE (BRENDAN GLEESON) & JACK BRENNAN (CHRIS O’DOWD)

 

The cast is a veritable who’s who of UK and Irish talent, all seem to have it in for our priest: Chris O’Dowd as a very odd butcher, Dylan Moran as the local rich man, Fitzgerald, a morally corrupt banker who grew filthy rich during the GFC. He treats the priest with a mixture of passive aggressive friendship balanced by contempt and cynicism. Veronica (Orla O’Rourke) plays the butcher’s unhappy wife. She is keen to share details about her latest extra marital affairs with James. Another Dr Frank  (Aidan Gillen), a man who is completely and utterly “godless” who seems to get a sadistic thrill out of telling Father James every morbid detail of his time at the hospital. Simon (Isaach de Bankolé) an immigrant from Ghana threatens him with physical violence. The local detective inspector (Gary Lydon) is relentlessly sarcastic about the church. Then we have perhaps the priest’s only ally, his daughter (Kelly Reilly), who comes to visit him from London. But even she is still angry at him for him joining the priesthood after her mother’s death.

This is not to say that the movie is simply bleak. It is darkly comedic and most of the time hilarious. But the humour is always two steps away from references to death, suffering, depravity and violence. Most characters know each other and are friends but seem almost to be jealous and other times contemptuous of each other.

 

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CALVARY | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | FATHER JAMES LAVELLE (BRENDAN GLEESON)

 

Unlike a priest from a caricature Gleeson’s character is worldly wise. He may be dressed like a priest but he also is aware of the “temporal world” around him. He meets the towns folks jabs with good natured advice and humour. But you can tell the words affect him.

The film has some amazing visual gags, and superb dialogue from the whole cast. But it is Gleeson’s almost lazy delivery which turns good jokes into great ones. It balances this with a drama which is both razors sharp in its commentary of modern Ireland but also on the Catholic Church.

I can’t wait for the conclusion of the trilogy.

 

4 and a Half Pops