Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Isaach De Bankolé, M. Emmet Walsh, Marie-Josée Croze, Domhnall Gleeson, David Wilmot, Pat Shortt, Killian Scott, Orla O'Rourke, Owen Sharpe
Written by: John Michael McDonagh
Directed by: John Michael McDonagh
MPAA Rating: R for sexual references, language, brief strong violence and some drug use
Running Time: 100
Date: 08/01/2014
IMDB

Calvary (2014)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Forgiveness

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The brother of playwright/filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths), John Michael McDonagh's previous film The Guard was great fun, but his new Calvary is something a bit more. McDonagh brings on actor Brendan Gleeson as well as cinematographer Larry Smith from the previous film, and this results in a great performance and a beautifully composed film.

In a small Irish seaside town, Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) hears a Sunday confession. A man tells him that he was raped by a priest as a child, and now intends to kill the innocent Father Lavelle in one week's time. Father Lavelle goes about his week, trying to help his flock, having deep discussions, but often leaving things frustratingly unresolved. A beautiful young wife loses her husband in an accident, and he reads the Last Rites. His grown daughter, Fiona (Kelly Reilly), fresh from a suicide attempt, visits for a few days, and they discuss their troubled past. Someone burns down the church. Finally, Sunday comes and Father Lavelle heads to the pre-arranged meeting place on the beach. Can he save the troubled man's soul?

The movie does not generate much suspense from its a simple "countdown" motif. Instead it's mainly focused on conversations, but these are so brilliantly written and so ambiguous that they manage to convey many complex, overlapping ideas. However, the cinematography tends to support the images with nuanced uses of space, temperature, and character composition; it's a very visual film, as well as a verbose one. The final, hopeful moments show the entire cast of characters; Father Valelle has failed to reach many of them, but did in fact reach a few, and touched their hearts. The ambiguous ending is worth discussing.

The great M. Emmet Walsh has a wonderful small role as a writer who likes books, booze, and guns.

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