Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Calvary, 2014

Father James is a small-town priest in Ireland whose Sunday confessionals suddenly include a threat to kill him in a week's time as a matter of principle (by a maybe deranged man who was raped and abused by a priest when he was a child).. Deeply troubled and conflicted about how to respond, Father James (a good man intent on making the world a better place) tries to go on with his calling through that week. However, that proves impossible as he is confronted with a troubling variety of spiritual challenges from both his estranged daughter and his own parishioners. In those dispiriting struggles, Father James' life begins to fall apart as time runs out towards a confrontation that seems to crystallize his values and what he wants his life to be.

The man who makes the threat says there is no point in killing a bad priest - so why not a good one? That would be something ....

London listings magazing "Time Out" says, according to the dvd cover, that this is "a wickedly funny black comedy" - which makes one wonder ... It s another of those dramas which present rural Ireland as a very bleak place one would not want to linger in - unlike my own part of North Kerry with its bustling towns like Tralee and Listowel and the seaside town Ballybunion.  But the west of Ireland here seems an empty barren place - Sligo perhaps - even the pub provides no respite or comfort. Like writer/director John Michael McDonagh's previous one, THE GUARD (at least that had some laughs and a genuine sense of humour) also starred Brendan Gleeson, who of course was also sensational in IN BRUGES written and directed by McDonagh's brother Martin (author of plays like THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE which was terrific, THE PILLOWMAN, THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN etc) - bleak plays with  savage dark humour, following on perhaps from John B. Keane's SIVE.

The good supporting cast here includes Aiden Gillen, Chris O'Dowd and Kelly Reilley as the priest's daughter - he joined the priesthood after his wife died.  Like the recent PHILOMENA this too touches on Ireland's past and those cases of child abuse. The bleak ending here is shattering though, as Father James endures his own Calvary, and toys with that gun he gets to defend himself  - it is a total surprise when the person who made the threat is revealed - it is not who one thinks is all one can say .... another fascinating movie about Ireland then and the repercussions of the past. But a dark comedy, I don't think so. 

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