Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Movie Review: "Calvary" (2014)

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Image Source
A man comes to the confessional of Father James (Brendan Gleeson) and states that he was molested by a priest at a very young age. The priest who molested him is now dead, but because of this, this man says he is going to murder Father James. He is going to murder the Father since he has done nothing wrong because it would make more of an impact to murder an innocent priest. This man gives the Father one week to put his house in order before he kills him. 

First off, this is not a happy film. It puts a spotlight on the wrongs of the Catholic church, as well as people in general. The film takes place in Sligo, Ireland, and this town seems to be full of characters who do the wrong thing. From drugs to infidelity to much, much worse, it brings to light the hypocrisy of people who drudge to mass every Sunday to absolve their sins yet go right back to doing them the next day, only to have them absolved again the following week. This film definitely has an agenda, as well as messages throughout about the nature of humanity and society as a whole that it wants to leave with its viewers. It shows that no person is perfect and that every person has their flaws.

It's important to note that, from the beginning, Father James knows who is threatening him as he sees this man in the confessional booth. The audience is never shown who this man is and we were kept in the dark on purpose, given only vague hints as to who it might be, though it seems everyone in town could have been a suspect. We are left to our own prejudices and deductive reasoning to figure out who had the most capabilities to kill Father James, a priest who had done nothing wrong. Filmmakers do this by ingeniously introducing each character one by one within their interactions with Father James, exploring what makes them way they are, the good and the bad. Each of these characters are seemingly connected in some way, shape, or form by their sins. When push comes to shove, Father James is not a therapist, so he never tells the people he interacts with to change their minds about the sins they commit. Rather, he wants them to change their minds on their own accord. In the end, this line of thinking may be a noble one, but may prove to be his unraveling as well.

This movie would not be what it was without Brendan Gleeson at the helm. His presence is commanding and he makes this movie as powerful as it is. Gleeson's acting is some of the finest and best we have seen this in any movie this year. He does an exceptional job as Father James, a man who has a calm stoicism about him and really strives to stay on the straight and narrow through his beliefs and his faith, even though he is not without his own flaws. You can see his concerns about the threats to his life in his facial expressions and we see his effort to keep these concerns from impacting his job as a priest. He also has an incredible strength about him, having to hear daily about the often times horrific happenings of the people of Sligo. Mixed in with his serious nature and strength, though, is a dry, ironic wittiness about life that makes him approachable and very likable. We'll be surprised if Gleeson isn't recognized for his efforts in this film at some award show this year. Beyond this, all of the other actors and actresses in this film do a fantastic job coming together as one interconnected town, but remaining unique as characters.

When all is said and done, this movie is an extremely dark mix of profound spiritual awakening, condemnation of society and its actions, misplaced intensity, and witty humor that we will not soon forget. It is beautifully shot in a gorgeous setting, which juxtaposes the seriousness of the subject matter at hand. We thought it was an amazing film, but it is definitely not for everyone.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 89%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "The Grandmaster"

No comments:

Post a Comment