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. Deeply troubled and conflicted about how to respond, Father James 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. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The name of the movie Calvary is a reference to the place outside of Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified and is described as being on a hill/mountain shaped like a skull. The word Calvary comes from the Latin word Calvariæ which means skull. See more »
At the end of the film I reflected that this was a far bigger film that I had been expecting. The issues explored in the film really do come together at the end. The credits roll silently and I noticed that the full cinema was very quiet and remained so for a much longer time than usual.
The problems in the Catholic church have had repercussions and this parish in Sligo is losing its faith. This loss of faith is portrayed very vividly, it is expressed more strongly than in reality I think.
The film revolves around the character of Father James Lavelle played powerfully by Brendan Gleeson. As Father James visits his parishioners there is much humour, often quite dark. The script has many choice lines. A man arrives to give a lift to a female parishioner who has been sexually promiscuous and she says "here is my ride".
Father James Lavelle is a likable priest, grappling with applying the church's teachings in the modern world. It is a thankless task and always his objective is undermined by the failures of the church itself. Father James's character is contrasted with that of a younger priest he shares the parish with (David Wilmot). The younger priest is very much part of the institution of the church and his loyal naïvety is humorous and infuriating.
Father James' life is threatened at the beginning, but this film is not a detective story, it is not Father Brown. Father James knows who threatened him but we the audience are not let in on the secret. The logic behind the threat is described ingeniously as events in the film come to a head at the end.
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