An anonymous man comes to Father James in confession and vows to kill him in one week, simply because the priest is himself a good man.

Year: 2014
Certificate: 15
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Isaach De Bankolé, M. Emmet Walsh, Marie-Josée Croze, Domhnall Gleeson

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I wasn’t sure what to expect with “Calvary” but it had a lot of retweets and likes when it was added to Netflix UK the other month. From past experience, I know you guys have a knack of knowing a good film when you see one – so I added this to my ever-growing list.

I came to the film knowing nothing other than the general synopsis: during confession, Father James (Gleeson) is told he will be killed the following Sunday for the simple fact that he is a good man. There is no long, drawn-out build up to this – it happens in the opening scenes and the remainder of the film follows the priest on a day to day basis while he tries to come to terms with what may happen on the proposed day.

With the cast including the likes of Chris O’Dowd (The I.T. Crowd) and Dylan Moran (Black Books) I had expected “Calvary” to be an all out comedy, but after the opening line (sorry, I won’t do spoilers!) I could tell that any comedy involved would be very dark. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very funny moments in the film including highly inappropriate things being said to Father James and some equally inappropriate responses.

Having been filmed in Ireland there is some stunning scenery and they make use of this with numerous wide-open shots of long beaches and rolling hills. This works well with the content of the film, allowing us to get a glimpse of Father James’ thoughts as he approaches his potential death. The story itself is very deep at times and often emotional – you feel a bond forming with Father James as he makes amends with his estranged daughter and also see him slowly get ground down as the week progresses. Even though he is living with the fact that he could be dead in a few days, he still goes about his work – and this makes the film even more harrowing. Why not just simply pack up and leave? What is there in him that makes him stay, to “get his house in order” so to speak, and, ultimately, stick to his word to meet his potential killer after a week?

All in all, “Calvary” is a very good film. The humour is dark and sharp and you feel a bond with the characters and share their pain as well as happiness. It’s not the most joyful of films, I found myself getting quite emotional at times, but it does come highly recommended.

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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7 thoughts on “Calvary

  1. Call me old-fashioned but comedies about priests abusing young children aren’t funny. Neither is domestic abuse particularly amusing.

    I normally rate Chris O’Dowd but he let himself down being involved in this film.

    1. The comedy isn’t about child abuse or domestic violence. The film is a story of one man’s retaliation to being abused as a child and how it has clearly affected him in a serious way.

      The comedic elements are not related to abuse.

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