Wednesday, 7 May 2014


The impressive Kelly Reilly ( as Father James' troubled daughter) and Brendan Gleeson

With Chris working late tonight, I had to go to Theatre Clwyd this afternoon to see  Calvary ,John Michael McDonagh's much celebrated sideswipe at the Catholic Church.
Father James ( Brendan Gleeson ) is the priest of a small Irish provincial town during confession one of his congregation confides in him that he was sexually abused by a priest as a child . During an electric interaction between unseen victim and clergyman the priest is informed that he will be killed in one week, even though he is , in fact a good parish priest with an unblemished record. A murder that will highlight the abuse within the Catholic Church.
Even though Father James understands who his attacker will be, he keeps the fact quiet and carries on dealing with the pastoral needs of townfolk, who all, in one way or another  have lost their faith in religion or in life itself.
It's a bit like a whodunit before anyone's actually "due it" .if you catch my meaning?..not that this is the most important crux of the story. The film has much more to say about the absurdities and the contradictions of Catholicism and the integrity of real faith than it ever does about a mere " who will pull the trigger..murder mystery?"
Gleeson is a pure joy to watch. Shopworn and wise , he dominates the screen in every scene he is in and gives Father James' struggle a depth which at times is proudly moving to watch.
(His scene with the grieving and devout wife of a French tourist ( Marie Josee Croze) is especially powerfully observed)
Having said this, I did find it a little unbalanced to have his character the only positive and sympathetic Irish character in the entire movie. All the other Irish characters being rather nasty and wholly unlikable pieces of work.


  1. I'll look out for it - and it seems to be getting a lot of good reviews over here.

  2. Brendan Gleeson always gives a powerful performance, and can cover many ranges. The small town personalities are like condensed milk. Just a little too much either way.

    Have you ever watched "Waking Ned Devine"? An older movie, but is a view into a small Irish town, which is not always as expected.

    And, thank you for stopping by my site. Your blogs delight me. Haven't seen " hey ho" for a while.

    1. Ned Devine
      I think I have seen it but can't remember
      Off to wiki it
      Hey ho

  3. It won't be released here until mid-year, but hope to somehow see it. I was raised catholic, parochial school, the 'whole nine yards', as we say over here. My sister, 8 years ahead, in the same school, turned virulently anti-catholic by the time she was 14, and turned her attention to my altar boy work, and sat me down.
    I'm sure they are human, like all of us (priests), and have the same foibles. I'm understanding of their failings and weaknesses. Proportionally a bit more, but we'll leave that for another time.
    But, the failings and behaviour of the catholic church I cannot abide. The institution, and the leadership. The current pope, who knows....he's probably taking the only path possible, that of incremental improvement, but it's far to little, too late.
    Anyway, I'll see the movie if I can.

    1. It is an interesting piece of work... Which funnily enough dovetails neatly against movies such as Philomena
      I would be interested to hear what you think about this movie

  4. It looks like the scenery is beautiful. That always helps a movie.

  5. Anonymous2:42 am

    You, John, say: "I did find it a little unbalanced to have his character the only positive and sympathetic Irish character in the entire movie".

    Reminds me of what the Angel said, in passing, a few days ago (can't remember title of the film he had watched). Something along the lines of "There was NOT one character I could identify with, have sympathy for". Well, it happens.

    Interesting, don't you think, how we like to engage rather than being left cold.


    1. I need to be engaged with something in a movie
      I run on an emotional level

  6. Sounds like a good one!

    I don't know if her show is on TV there, but Reilly is in a new show called "Black Box" here, and her acting is pretty amazing in it. She plays a bipolar neuropsychologist.

  7. That sounds very good. Thanks for the review.


  8. Even I might enjoy this one!

  9. i thought it was the hairy biker simon king i know common as muck the film sounds hummm not one to watch if you feeling down

  10. (I've just responded to your comment on my current post of 'Blue Ruin', not realising that you'd already posted this review of 'Calvary').

    You write from an interestingly different angle on this to my own thoughts, which is something I always like to read. As an ex-R.C. (it often feels like a stain that can never be completely washed away) I can't help but view such stories as this from the 'inside' whereas others can see it more dispassionately and objectively.
    I wasn't so sure that (Father) Gleason knew for sure the identity of his future assassin. Did you, unlike me, guess correctly before the climactic beach scene?
    You also justifiably make much more of the role of his feisty daughter.
    I was slightly more uncertain about interpreting the story with reference to changing attitudes to the church on a wider scale. I'm often confused when it comes to clear accusations - maybe because, having been indoctrinated so successfully, despite my current vehement criticisms of the Church I do have some residual 'respect' for the institution (God, that sounds so awful!) despite what you rightly call its 'absurdities'. I think I still miss, to some degree, the old black-and-white certainties, yet knowing that the world and morality actually operates in varying shades of grey.

    Anyway, glad that it came up to your expectations and hopes. And if your 'other half' saw it too I hope he was likewise impressed.

    1. Oh, blow! Ignore the penultimate para. If one can't express what one means don't express it at all!

    2. I meant MY para. (I give up!)

    3. Ray
      The only thing I didn't " like" about the movie was the Irish characters. I understand that every one represented different aspects of Irish ( and African) dissatisfaction with RC but having each character being dislikable over balanced the movie.
      Did you note that the only positive characters was the English daughter, the American writer and the French tourist?

    4. And on reflection these characters were only warm and positive because they had the ability to forgive

    5. I'd forgotten about the tourist but you are right - the non-Irish characters were also the most likeable.

  11. Gleeson is a charismatic actor. So compelling. That face! I am looking forward to seeing this movie.

  12. Have you seen The Guard? its absolutely wonderful and Brendan Gleeson is just amazing in it :) x


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