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Reviews & Ratings for
Calvary More at IMDbPro »

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124 out of 162 people found the following review useful:

Best so far in 2014

Author: Eamonn-donaghy from Belfast
12 April 2014

Having seen all the Oscar nominees in early 2014, I would have to say this is better than any of them. It might be a controversial thing to say to all the film techies who get very involved in analysing dialogue and the like but as a snap shot of Ireland in 2014, it's hard to think of how this movie could be bettered. Morally bankrupt, cynical, howling at the moon and everyone looking to blame someone else for their woes. And of course sitting right in the middle of this is the Catholic Church and all the scandals it was involved with. However rather than making the centre character the inevitable bad guy, we get a real man who has lived life, knows pain, has flaws but is a shining light of integrity, morality and compassion. Brendan Glesson is fabulous in his portrayal of Fr James who is asked to make the ultimate sacrifice as the good man laying down his life for the sins of others. The rest of the cast are also excellent and whilst it is a tad unrealistic that so many odd balls and "characters' all live in one small town, it is clear that they are representative of the vast array of disaffected folk living in Ireland today. The reference to Fr James' fellow priest having the character of an insurance company accountant was however a little to close for comfort! All in all a great movie of its time with strong performances and a great story. Irish film at its very best. Well done to everyone involved.

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86 out of 104 people found the following review useful:

Bleak and disturbing

Author: davidgee from United Kingdom
16 April 2014

A timely title for Holy Week. Father James (Brendan Gleeson), a village priest in a coastal village in Ireland, is told in the confessional that one of his parishioners is going to kill him. The man was abused by a priest for five years as a child; that priest has died, but killing the innocent Father James will be revenge for the other priests's abuse of an innocent boy.

A challenging set-up for a movie, especially one which sells itself as a comedy - albeit a very dark comedy. With Father James we meet most of the locals, a sinful lot for such a small village. The butcher who beats his two-timing wife; the aggressive local publican; the cynical doctor; the alcoholic landowner; the police inspector with a taste for rent-boys; an ancient exiled American writer (M. Emmet Walsh).

Having been married (and widowed) before he answered the Call, Father James has an unhappy daughter (Kelly Reilly) down from the big city, her wrists bandaged from a suicide attempt. A week after the woeful NOAH, I half expected a Flood to overwhelm the village, full as it was of folk sliding into wickedness. The central mystery of which of them has threatened the priest is a bit of a cheat, since surely he would have recognised the voice in the confessional.

The dark mountains and pounding seas which sandwich the village are as atmospherically filmed as they were in David Lean's RYAN'S DAUGHTER, and a fine score boosts the film's seesaw moves between comedy and tragedy. The script is clumsy in parts, but the actors carry us over the bumps. Brendan Gleeson is on splendid form (I wish he'd played Noah last week!) and the rest of the cast turn in believable performances. There is no comedy in the bleak finale. This is a dark and disturbing low-budget movie which, like PHILOMENA, will linger in the mind long after multi-million-dollar blockbusters have faded into a CGI haze.

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96 out of 125 people found the following review useful:

Never wanted to see a movie again, minutes after I watched it!

Author: adination_p from Romania
10 June 2014

My expectations for this movie were medium, I saw the cast had a lot of great comedians, so I thought there would at least be a few laughs. Instead, I was surprised to see a very powerful and touching movie, absolutely great script, never a doll moment, funny comebacks, terrifyingly creepy monologues and Brendan Gleeson. Hats off to this wonderful, talented actor! I was completely sold on his interpretation of an intellectual, yet devoted priest. And also, I found it very refreshing that the character was written as sincerely religious but not bigoted. I strongly recommend you go see this movie and I can't wait to see it again!

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95 out of 127 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant Film - mixture of hilarious lines in a very dark story

Author: Seamus06 from United States
25 January 2014

Watched this at Sundance Festival. Brilliant film. Some of the dialog is a bit lost on US audience but still some hilarious lines. This is much darker than The Guard and In Bruges (I know it's a different writer/director) but very similar humor. But this has some very powerful scenes (particularly the one with the lady who loses her husband). It also tackles some serious questions on the church and priesthood after the scandals around the world; really makes you think about the plight of decent priests. Gleeson pulls off the part of innocent priest paying for the sins of others excellently.

The music is amazing throughout. Also the scenery is incredible - made me miss home!

Excellent performances by Pat Short and Dylan Moran. Brendan Gleeson is just Brendan Gleeson, my favorite Irish actor (after Daniel Day Lewis of course)

This is well worth seeing. If your a fan of the McDonaghs stuff you'll love this. And what a great ending!

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67 out of 83 people found the following review useful:

Calvary - Utterly Superb.

Author: George Davies from United Kingdom
17 May 2014


Honestly, for those of you who haven't seen this film, go and see it. It's absolutely fantastic!

Brendan Gleeson gives a stunning performance as a troubled priest who has to come to terms with something shocking that he has been told will happen. It paints a brutal, realistic and yet original picture of modern Ireland. All the characters in the film are exaggerated representations of the types of people you get in Ireland today IMO. The story is touching, emotional, real and unforgettable.

My favourite film of 2014 so far. If you liked In Bruges or The Guard or even Seven Psychopaths, see this film. It's darker than all three of those films and it's hard to watch at times but honestly, it's worth it.

A beautifully dark film, with lashings of black humour and some lovely one liners. Just make sure to laugh at the appropriate parts, some viewers in my cinema laughed at the opening line! (once/if you see it you'll understand) I hope audiences outside of the UK and Ireland can enjoy it. I implore you to see it. 9/10, a must see!

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56 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

The underrated virtue

Author: UncleTantra from Leiden, the Netherlands
30 June 2014

It is somehow appropriate that one of the best films I have seen since Martin McDonagh's "In Bruges" is by his brother, John Michael McDonagh. John showed promise with his film "The Guard," but with this film he takes his place in the pantheon of immortal Irish black humorist-philosophers alongside his brother.

What if you were a Catholic priest, and one of your flock told you during confession that he was going to kill you in a week? Not because you were a bad priest, but because you were a good one. He means it, and you know he means it. He gives you the week to get your affairs in order.

And what if the priest were played by the same Irish national treasure who played the lead in both of the two other aforementioned films, Brendan Gleeson. What if his efforts were supported by the likes of Kelly Reilly, Chris O'Dowd, Aidan Gillen, M. Emmet Walsh and a host of great Irish/English actors? And what if the results were really, really, really good, verging on magnificent? Then you'd have "Calvary."

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51 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly Far-Reaching

Author: Patrick James from Brighton & Hove, England
13 April 2014

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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50 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

A serious drama with some funny moments

Author: FionnyAnseo from Ireland
22 April 2014

This movie is NOT I repeat NOT a comedy, it is a drama addressing serious issues from Ireland's past that happens to have some dark comedy moments.

It is well written, directed and acted and draws you into the little community in Sligo. As usual Brendan Gleeson proves he is one of the finest Irish actors around playing the likable priest who realises the worlds problems are real.

The end of the movie will leave you thinking and in all likelihood the cinema will be in silence and that is a sign of what this film has achieved... a contemplative piece forcing us to think on our past and how we treat.


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40 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

A strong Irish film with great performances

Author: estebangonzalez10 from Ecuador
18 July 2014

¨ I've always felt there's something inherently psychopathic about joining the army in peace time.¨

Calvary is director, John Michael McDonagh's followup to 2011's The Guard which also happened to star Brendan Gleeson in the lead role. This time Gleeson plays a Catholic Priest named Father James who is threatened during a confession by someone who we don't get to see. This man claims to have been sexually molested by a Priest several times as a kid and although Father James is a good and decent Priest he must take the fall in order for a statement to be made. Father James is given one week (or so this man claims) before being killed on the following Sunday on the beach. The father is troubled by this threat but he must continue doing his parish work during the remaining course of the week. We follow him as he has some deep conversations with the different members of the small Irish town they live in. It's a very interesting premise that hooks you from the start and has you wondering which of all the troubled people in the town might be the one who has threatened this goodhearted Priest. However the film works just as fine without that premise because the interactions between these characters is the true center of the story. These are all broken men and women who the Father interacts with and most of the conversations are deep and spiritual. Calvary isn't a film about religion, but it does have some important things to say about faith and virtues. It is very well written by McDonagh and the screenplay is rich in dark comedy; perhaps one of the best things about this movie. This is a film that could be very easily adapted to a stage play because the written material is superb and carries the movie on its own. Calvary also benefits from the beautiful scenery of the Irish coast line and a wonderful supporting cast. This is a film that sticks with you and one I wouldn't mind watching again.

Brendan Gleeson is a fantastic actor and one wishes he continue to collaborate with director McDonagh. I remembered he also gave a fantastic performance in In Bruges, which ironically was written and directed by John McDonagh's brother. These guys are great writers and know how to include a lot of wit in their dialogues. The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. Kelly Reilly plays Fiona, Father James's daughter (I know you might be thinking what is a Priest doing with a daughter because I asked myself the same question, but we quickly find out that James was once married and when his wife died he became a Priest). She is going through some difficult times, and James is trying to help her find answers. Chris O'Dowd also gives a terrific performance as one of the members from the parish whose wife is having an affair with an African man, but he seems OK with this because he can finally enjoy his freedom. Aidan Gillen (from Game of Thrones) plays the Atheist doctor, while Emmet Walsh is an old writer who is well aware that he's approaching death. These are just some of the people that Father James deals with in his community and each interaction is very rich and profound. There is plenty of dark humor balanced with a great amount of spiritual questions. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the material was handled. I can't even remember when was the last time that a Priest was portrayed so well on screen. Calvary is a powerful film with great performances and some sharp writing, and that is why this is one of the must see films of 2014. All I know is that after watching this I was desperate to get my hands on The Guard which I haven't had a chance to see but definitely will now. I highly recommend Calvary.

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30 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Priest faces his death better than others face life

Author: maurice yacowar from Canada
19 August 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In confessional, a parishioner tells Father James he will kill him in a fortnight because Father James is good man, an excellent priest,. His murder would be a shock to the church that countenanced the man's boyhood sexual abuse. Despite knowing who his threat is, Father James spends the time ministering to his parishioners including his killer's domestic issues, preserving the sacred privacy of the confessional. He gets a gun but at the last minute throws it into the sea. He plans to escape to Dublin but changes his mind as he boards the plane. What prompts that change is seeing two airport employees idly chatting as they lean over a coffin. Inside is a good man who was killed in a car crash with drunken teenagers. Father James is strengthened by seeing the casual way in which that victimized innocence is treated. There is no respect there, no overall sense of holiness or decency, just two yobs leaning over a box. That revives Father James's conscience and he returns to face his fate. The dead man's wife is the only character here who has no crisis of faith. She knows her husband was a good man. Though in pain, she accepts his what we would think is Absurd random death. She appreciates the kindness the strangers have shown her. Serenely she is flying him home. Father James's daughter, who looks like her thin, delicate, wan grows through the film from her shaky recovery from a suicide attempt to her own serenity, when she goes to the prison to talk to her father's killer. As Father James told his daughter, the most undervalued virtue is forgiveness. After a broken romance caused her to despair, now her father's sacrifice brings her a surprising peace. She forgives the troubled killer and can then forgive herself the lesser failures she has magnified. So when Father James goes back to confront his killer he is performing his function. He learned that from the good man of abused acceptance in the coffin. In performing that role he like Jesus expiates the other's sin. He saves his killer's soul by exorcising the abused boy's rage and helplessness. For the killer to forgive his abuser, the church and ultimately himself for the murder, though, the butcher needs the model of the priest's daughter's forgiveness. That distinguishes this killer from the one Father James visits in prison, a cannibal who feels nothing. In contrast, with the exception of the new widow, every character suffers from the wealthy landowner's confessed "disassociation." The daughter is adrift, unmoored by the loss of her father to the priesthood after she lost her mother to a lingering death. The campy male prostitute constantly plays a gangster grotesque to avoid making any human connection. He's most comfortable crisply shooting pool. The landowner at one point takes down a treasured painting from his wall and urinates on it. Abandoned by his family and even his servant to whom he later admits he never felt attached anyway his wealth is meaningless. His 100,000 Euro check to the church means nothing to him, neither as gesture nor as value.The painting is Holbein's The Ambassadors, which famously shows two wealthy overdressed men, a display of secular opulence, with in the foreground an anamorphic image of a skull that can only be seen from the side. In this brilliant composition, the askew view from the side undermines the impressive secularity seen from the front. A Christ hangs obscured in a distant corner. "Calvary" of course means "the place of the skull" the place where we confront our mortality, as Christ assumed his. This painting is an emblem of the film but with a twist. From the frontal view our impression is of a troubled, pained, helpless secular existence, where even a good priest is immediately suspect for chatting with a little girl, where the Catholic church stands condemned for its greed and its abandonment of its children, for its hypocrisy. But viewed from a different angle, from Father James's perspective, there survives the reminder of grace, of forgiveness, of connection. One more point about that painting. It famously hangs in London's National Gallery. In no way could this character own it. So what he's so proud of having spent so much meaningless money to buy, what he thinks he is so dramatically despoiling to demonstrate his power, is a fake. He was had when he bought it and his every estimation of it is wrong. The fake is as dissociated from its original promise as the character is. There are three priests here. The young colleague and the older bishop look the same: thin, bloodless, lifeless, with no spark or energy to suggest a calling. In contrast Father James has the physical bulk of a Falstaff and erupts into that rogue's drunken violence on the eve of his mortal test. Father James is a man of flesh and passion. Having had a daughter before he became a priest, he knows the flesh. He knows love, so he doesn't need a picture to remember his wife. He has been a drinker. Behind his adoration of the beyond is a full fathoming of the here. He can cry for his murdered dog the way he couldn't cry for his church's young victims, for he too knew disassociation.

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