“Calvary” is an Irish film about faith. It opens with the local parish priest sitting in a confessional and we hear the individual’s voice as he proceeds to tell the priest that he was molested as a child and that the priest who committed the acts is now deceased. He closes by telling the priest that in one week he will return and, “I’m going to kill you because you’re innocent.” The next scenes are of the Irish coastline with people surfing. (I had no idea folks surfed in Ireland or that wet suits weren’t needed.) For the next seven days and the remainder of this 104 minute film, we follow Father James and explore whether he is “innocent”. Each passing day is marked on screen. Brendan Gleeson gives a superb performance as Father James. We learn about the priest’s daily life. We begin to learn about his personal history: that he was married and only became ordained after his wife died. We meet his daughter, Fiona (Kelly Reilly) and explore their relationship. We meet various parishioners and hear the daily issues that arise amongst them. The film is shot in the northwest corner of Ireland in County Sligo. James Michael McDonagh is writer /director of this excellent film. The supporting cast includes Dylan Moran as Fitzgerald, a wealthy baron without friends, who has theological exchanges with Father James questioning whether tainted money given by someone without values should be accepted by the church. I did not care for the closing scene, but will refrain from describing why. This would answer the mystery presented in the film’s opening scenes. I would have no objection to McDonagh receiving a nomination for best original screenplay or for best director, and none whatsoever to Gleeson receiving a nomination for his performance.
Steven Guttman, Esq. writes film reviews for Pure Pacific and his blog, guttmansgarage.blogspot.com