"Calvary" deals indirectly with the sexual abuse of kids/teenagers that so many catholic priests have gotten away with. However, it is not the drama that you think it is. John Michael McDonagh is using the unfamiliar backdrop of black comedy, similarly to what the Coen brothers did in their earlier works. At the centre of the plot, we meet Father James Lavelle, a likable priest of the catholic church in a remote Irish town who at the later stages of his life decided to be a representetive of god in order to deal with his own issues (alcoholism and being recently widowed). The interesting part of the plot is that a familiar face from his environment due to years of sexual abuse by another priest decides to kill him (despite having nothing to do with such horrific acts) and gives him a week (only).
What follows is fairly intriguing as we are introduced to a variety of characters that surround Father James and his feisty yet alienated from him daughter of various sociaeconomic statuses - doctors, trophy wives, jobless men, bartenders, etc) each one having their own reason to despise the tactics of the modern church (and thus being the prime suspect). As we progress through the final? week of Father James life, storylines are interconnected, revelations are being made and dodgy characters take centre stage with their eccentricities and bizarre pyschological attributes. A who-is-going-to-do-it plot gets infused with more hostile acts towards James blurring the lines of much clearer suspicious people and introducing others.
No matter how cruel the whole subject can be, McDonagh is not focusing to make a statement against a powerful organization that happens to shelter and protect its predators. This is known (unfortunately). No, he is interested in extracting a powerhouse performance from Brendan Gleeson and superb supporting turns from the rest of cast while defusing the situations with one liners ("killing a priest on Sunday - that would be a good one") and out of the blue comedic acts. You see the point here, is the rather short travel of a man in a small forest of familiar faces and his relationships with them after particular incidents. It brings to memory lots of similarities with the Danish "The hunt" but it is less stressful and frankly more optimistic. Genuinely Father James is a good man, not a perfect one, but a good one, trying to bring as much as hope and peace to those around him who still make the wrong decisions no matter how moral support and advice they seek to receive.
|Brendan Gleeson gives the performance of a lifetime - I wish he gets lots of awards for his work here|
In a world where blockbusters and stupid intelletual films reign with nothing to offer, it is nice to see a simple character story with the jaw dropping landscapes of Ireland as a rainy setting (the beach shots are incredible). While "calvary" does not reinvent the wheel of cinematic productions, it certainly offers plenty of imagery for thought while certain points are left ambiguous for those of us who desire a more insightful analysis of movies.
+ mesmerising landscapes
+ brilliant cinematography
+ Brendan Gleeson is fantastic
+ the supporting cast
+ interesting plot
+ with sharp social characterization
+ some parts are actually really funny
- perhaps an issue such as serious as this should not be treated lightly?