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Sunday 20 April 2014

Calvary, (2014) Film written & directed by John Michael McDonagh, 9* out of 10

During a confession Father James Lavelle (Brandon Gleeson) is threatened by one of his congregants, who bears a deadly grudge against the church. Father James  experienced, wise, committed to his vocation is effective in his job and attentive in his interactions with the cast of colourful characters that make up his community.

His rogue congregant has given Father James one week to get his affairs in order before he will kill him. The priest uses this time to carry on his duties while deciding how best to deal with the threat.

Calvary is part drama, part thriller, part black comedy and chimes with the Christian Easter story. There aren’t many writers/directors who are able to pull off such a potentially incongruous mix of genres and turn it into a great film, but John Michael McDonagh succeeds brilliantly. With the help of a strong acting ensemble, he tells a moving, heart-warming story, at times laugh-out-loud funny, at times terribly tragic which holds the audience’s attention from beginning to end. The lynchpin of this terrific film is Brendan Gleeson who gives a brilliant performance as Father James. (The McDonagh family is clearly bursting with talent with John Michael’s brother Martin being responsible for the 2008 comedy/drama “In Bruges”).

Calvary is a thoughtful and original movie, surely among the best of 2014.  Suspenseful, moving, entertaining, at times hilariously funny, at times desperately sad, it is not to be missed.

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