Calvary (2014)

The opening scene is in a confessional booth where an unseen character confesses that they were abused by a priest when they were 7 and that while that priest was dead, he wants to take a stand and kill a priest, but not any priest, a good priest. The unknown character then determines that it will be Brendan Gleeson’s character, Father James, who he will kill in a weeks time. The opening is absolute perfection, it’s beautifully shot, with a great introduction to Gleeson’s character and it sets the morbid tone for the film.

The film then expands upon that and sets into play a mystery film, however not once is it heavy handed, quite often you find yourself forgetting that this good man has been sentenced to die by an unknown man, and it is not until you are reminded every so often when something shady happens in the film. This in itself is quite reflective of Father James’ own belief, at first it’s disbelieve but as the week goes on, he becomes more wary of it and allows himself to prepare as best he can for it.

This film rests on the shoulders of Brendan Gleeson who gives a phenomenal performance throughout the film and despite the occasional average performance, the rest of the cast are all stellar in their own rights. The fact that most of these 12 supporting characters are allowed a certain scene or moment where it seems like they are the would be murderer is brilliantly done and felt very natural for the most part.

There are a couple misses in the film, namely that the scenes with Father James and his daughter, played by Kelly Reilly, have a feeling of being a bit off, as if something is missing, something that cemented their relationship. Now, whether this was deliberate by the director or whether it was a simple omission it definitely affected the pacing of their scenes. Also, some of the dialogue and scenes with Aiden Gillen were a bit heavy handed and comparatively, felt very forced.

The film, despite it’s bleak tone is absolutely gorgeous, there are some shots that really stood out, especially using the Irish countryside as a backdrop, it just worked extremely well with the film. The colour palette used was also very effective in making the film feel dull and bleak while still having hints of hope, blues and oranges really popped in this colour palette and just added extra oomph to the already beautiful cinematography.

The fact that every character felt real and this tiny community felt genuine is very impressive, especially considering the almost outlandish plot that started the film. While the resolution wasn’t exactly to my expectation, I can honestly say the revelation of who the would be murderer was, did surprise me, however the final scene I really disliked, it just felt quite disingenuous and I see the correlation between the final scene and an earlier scene but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. It was a ridiculous end scene and honestly put a dampener on the whole film.

Nevertheless, this film is a brilliant modern mystery with some fantastic performances and a unique plot and in my book, is a must watch.

8/10

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