Rent Calvary (2014)

3.6 of 5 from 980 ratings
1h 38min
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Synopsis:
A good man intent on making the world a better place, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is continually shocked and saddened by the spiteful and confrontational inhabitants of his small country town. One day his life is threatened during confession. He shrugs off the altercation and continues to perform his pastoral duties, trying as best he can to help his parishioners. Soon, however, the sinister and troubling undercurrents he has tried to ignore start to make their presence felt more keenly, and as the forces of darkness close in around him he begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary.
Actors:
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Directors:
Producers:
Chris Clark, Flora Fernandez-Marengo, James Flynn
Writers:
John Michael McDonagh
Studio:
E1 Entertainment
Genres:
Comedy, Drama
Countries:
Ireland, Top 100 Films, Comedy, Drama
BBFC:
Release Date:
11/08/2014
Run Time:
98 minutes
Languages:
English
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Colour:
Colour
Bonus:
  • Interviews
BBFC:
Release Date:
11/08/2014
Run Time:
104 minutes
Languages:
English
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Colour:
Colour
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Interviews

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Reviews (20) of Calvary

"I'm going to kill you because you're innocent" - Calvary review by WS

Spoiler Alert
03/10/2014

Father James is a compassionate, liberal-minded priest who, we learn, took ordination in later life after being widowed. Sadly, the parish in which he finds himself is one in which cynicism and duplicity abound. Many members of the community still attend Mass, but outside of church they are openly contemptuous of the priesthood and seem to take perverse satisfaction in antagonising him and trying to undermine his faith. One day in confession, a male parishioner recounts - in uncompromising detail - his experiences of childhood rape at the hands of a priest. The perpetrator is dead, but as a means of retribution against the Church he intends to kill Father James, who he instructs to meet him on the beach in a week's time.

Over the next few days, the Father goes about his parochial duties as normally as possible. Among the people he tries to help are a former banker whose opulent lifestyle has left him feeling hollow, a gauche sexually-frustrated young man who is contemplating joining the army, and, improbably, a teenage serial killer who claims to be seeking redemption.

The dramatic tension inherent in this simple idea is exploited to the maximum by J.M. McDonough and the cast. It is highly atmospheric, the camerawork consisting of mostly tightly composed shots, with close-ups of Brendan Gleeson's face at crucial moments in the story and occasional menacing aerial shots of the famous flat-topped mountain that overlooks the village, and without any intrusive music. We are kept guessing until very late the course of action that Father James will choose - flee, go to the police, passively accept his fate or even defend himself with a pistol he has unlawfully acquired. He is a conscientious man but flawed enough for us to relate to. Towards the end he struggles to maintain his dignity and sobriety in the face of his death sentence and the increasing hostility he faces from the community.

Some may find the eccentric characters and understated dark humour to be at odds with the grim subject matter, and I personally thought the hospital morgue scene with Teresa (Marie-Josee Croze) was misjudged - she seems far too calm and rational for someone who's just lost her family in a road accident.

But all in all I found this a very brave and original piece, and one of the most powerful films of the year.

6 out of 7 members found this review helpful.

Unremitting, plodding drivel. - Calvary review by RL

Spoiler Alert
23/08/2014

I enjoyed 'The Guard' immensely, so had high hopes for 'Calvary'. All I can say is 'thank goodness for the fast forward button!"

This film stumbles from one overly-long, disjointed scene to the next, with a total lack of reason or logic and, fatally, no engagement with the characters. While a 'snap-shot' approach can work, in this instance it fails.

Definitely one to miss.

3 out of 9 members found this review helpful.

brilliant film, but a comedy it ain't - Calvary review by Kate

Spoiler Alert
29/01/2015

This was one of the best films I've seen in a long while, and I'll be contemplating its meaning for a long time. Father James, as portrayed brilliantly by Brendan Gleeson, is a truly good man, just what you'd hope a priest would be - a man who has lived, and loved, and who understands human frailty, especially his own. He faces his own Calvary with absolute courage, even though he has plenty of opportunity to save himself. So why oh why is it classed as a comedy? There are a few very black comedic scenes, but for the most part this is a very deep and serious film, about life, death, abuse, grief, love and loss. Anyone looking for a comedy would be very disappointed. Luckily I had read reviews beforehand. A truly great picture and Brendan Gleeson well deserves the praise and recognition he has received.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

Calvary review by George Hooper - Cinema Paradiso

When The Guard was released nobody knew what to expect from first time director John Michael McDonough. Part of what made the discovery of his fresh new voice exciting was that The Guard was a complete unknown and the comedic stylings he proceeded to charm us with were nothing short of magical. His followup however is more a strict drama and while the same authentic voice is on offer the film misses some chances and feels a little too heavy for McDonough’s signature style.

Calvary follows Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson), a kind hearted Irish priest who is one day presented with an unknown threat. When he is told by one of his paritioners that he is going to kill him in a week he faces a week long struggle with his faith, his idea of good and evil and parts of his past he wishes would stay dormant. However the arrival of his daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly) complicates matters as he struggles with the possibility of having to say goodbye to the one part of his past he doesn’t regret.

Much like The Guard, Calvary is well suited to Gleeson’s tough veneer. The film portrays multiple sides of a man of faith but also of a human being. The film doesn’t glorify or vilify religion, instead it discusses the nature of men and the thoughts that govern our lives on a daily basis, but these thoughts find themselves compounded by this limited time frame. Gleeson gets right into the heart of James as he sinks his teeth into some delightfully macabre scenes that debate the good of every man, even the one seeking revenge.

McDonough uses the beautiful surroundings of Ireland to put viewers in a contemplative mood while also encouraging them to play detective as they try to get to the heart of why someone wants this man dead. The film uses comedy sparingly and those expecting a follow up to The Guard will probably be disappointed but those looking for an intelligent look at the nature of faith and its impacts on humanity are in the right place.

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