Calvary (2014)

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, David Wilmot, Aidan Gillen
Running Time: 102 mins.

The beautiful Irish countryside and sea are the backdrop for a film where themes of life and death are played out in every scene highlighted by troubled souls facing challenges for which they are ill prepared to cope.  

It begins with Father James (Brendan Gleeson), a small town priest whose life is threatened by a mysterious parishioner giving confession.  In the week he’s given to get his affairs in order, Father James must contend with the appearance of his estranged daughter Fiona (the beautifully subtle Kelly Reilly) whom we learn tried to kill herself and other parishioners, less than savory disbelievers who seem to relish their own unsavoriness and nihilistic attitudes, something that exasperates Father James no end.   

There’s Freddie Joyce, an imprisoned serial killer effectively played by Brendan Gleeson’s own son Domhnall Gleeson, Jack (Chris O’Dowd) a butcher whose wife cheats on him,  Dr. Frank Harte (Aidan Gillen), an uncaring cocaine sniffer who brags about his loose lifestyle and a guilt riddled and beautifully twisted billionaire (Michael Fitzgerald ) who respects nothing life has to offer.     

Father James is a good man trying to do the right things and how he comes to terms with events in that one week is what makes this film so interesting.  It explores sin, faith and mental anguish in a group of fully realized characters where we as viewers are left with really wanting  to understand them and maybe even help them along their way to a happier life.

Lotta says Calvary is astonishing in its simplicity, deep characterizations and superb performances by all.