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Reviews & Ratings for
Calvary More at IMDbPro »

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Index 13 reviews in total 

28 out of 32 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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7 out of 7 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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6 out of 6 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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7 out of 8 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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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly dark, astonishingly brilliant

Author: Jonathan Reddy
17 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As an Irish viewer, I felt a certain trepidation as I walked into my local cinema today that Calvary would be the step too far for Irish film. I assumed that the seemingly endless list of well known Irish actors that John Michael McDonagh's latest film boasted could well be more of a burden than a blessing. I feared that I was about to watch a lackluster production which relied solely on its cast's reputation to lull the audience into a sense of comfort in the familiar. Thankfully, I couldn't have been further from the truth.

The film's opening line immediately removes any inkling that this is going to be a happy-go-lucky Irish gagfest. The few stifled laughs were short lived as the seriousness of "I was seven when I first tasted semen" hit home. The topic of the child sex abuse scandal of the Catholic church is dealt with head on and shamelessly. McDonagh excellently portrays the changing religious outlook of a rural community due to the shocking revelations about their once sacred church and the troubles of a fundamentally good priest dealing with the backlash to these revelations.

The graceful aerial shots of rural Sligo's scenery pairs expertly with the soundtrack in setting the ideal background for an equally graceful screenplay. Brendan Gleeson gives arguably the performance of his career as Father James Lavelle, while Aiden Gillen, Dylan Moran and Chris O' Dowd all give performances warranting the same accolade.

Calvary is a beautifully subtle social commentary on the state of the Irish psyche today and a huge step up from McDonagh's excellent previous work "The Guard". There are some genuine belly laughs to be found in this movie but also some genuine soul searching questions left in your mind after it ends. As the final credits rolled silently and the audience of my local cinema sat completely still for what felt like an age, all my previous doubts about this film were long behind me and my only question was "when can I see it again?"

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A film to make you think.

Author: James Kenworthy from Ireland
17 April 2014

Calvary is one of the best dark comedy films I have ever had the pleasure to see. I love Irish films and I am a fan of Brendan Gleeson, so I knew this couldn't go wrong, and it really delivered. The supporting cast were all great, with eccentric, hilarious, and steely types, all characters in this film were a pleasure to watch. The shining star of this is clearly Gleeson, and I'd go as far as to say that this is the best performance of his career.

The beautiful scenery makes Calvary a feast for the eyes, and while at times shocking, but made up for with ensuing hilarity, Calvary knows what it is and has its heart, making it a treat to see. Every piece of dialogue in the film carries undeniably valid points and discussions that simply makes sense, and I couldn't recommend it much more.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Intriguing thriller

Author: david-296-736376 from Hong Kong
12 April 2014

I thought this was an imaginative story with some interesting insights on how a priest has to deal with people who do not share his beliefs, ethics and standards. Rather uncomfortable with the concept that someone would kill an innocent person in revenge. The forgiveness theme was inspiring and was in contrast with the primary issue. Being set in Ireland made the film so much more down to earth than if it had been produced in Hollywood and set in the US. The acting was great even if some of the dialogue was at times too glib for the characters involved. Nevertheless a thoroughly provocative thriller. I look forward to seeing more from this team.

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A serious drama with some funny moments

Author: fionnyboy 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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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

F**k being a priest.

Author: ArT_of_InSaNiTy from United Kingdom
16 April 2014

Brendan Gleeson, for me, is an excellent actor; he always has such sincerity in his performances(with the exception of "Turbulence"). And like in "The Guard" it was great to see him as the lead role again.

The story is a very unique one and although the film is full of dark comedy and wit, there are genuine moments of travesty and turmoil that slip in here and there and give the film much more depth. Topics are touched upon that may not be greeted well amongst some people; but these topics where based on truth, so there should be no cause to complain.

Every actor brings something to the table with their characters. Brendan Gleeson is definitely the star of the show as Father James Lavelle, he delivers on so many levels; it's like acting just comes completely natural to him. Dylan Moran plays Michael in what is almost a tip of the hat to Dougal from "Father Ted". Chris O'Dowd is his usual quirky self as Jack, yet shows a lot more emotion than in any of his previous roles. Kelly Reilly who plays Father Leville's daughter Fiona, gels really well with Gleeson. One moment that was very sentimental was the scene between real life father and son. As in one scene Father Leville comes face to face with convicted serial killer Freddie Joyce (Domhnall Gleeson). Playing complete polar opposites it was a nice touch and i'm sure was a nice moment for both.

With all the events that happen in the period of the film, i think it gives a great insight to what life as a priest may be like. The persistent problems to which people seek the answer from you. The grief you may take, the accusations, the expectation. The dedication and restraint is commendable. Is it my cup of tea? No. Not in a billion years, but i'm an atheist, so wouldn't be much help.

A very good film which gives you plenty of comedy and its fair share of touching moments.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:


Author: petermac-981-922989 from Dublin
21 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I read somewhere that the idea for this film was put together in an afternoon in a pub somewhere. That may or may not be true, but it certainly felt like it was. Populated by two dimensional characters each seeming to represent a stereotype of Irish society. All without exception were depressive , cruel, unlikeable characters. The only likable one being the priest who then had to demonstrate all the characteristics of a saint to offset the brooding, malevolent ,non people he was surrounded by. Every conversation he had with every character was punctuated with the profound, every encounter an epiphany for someone. This became tedious and dare I say it boring and I found myself looking at my watch with forty long minutes of this dirge to go. I'm sorry for being so negative but I cannot remember a film where less happened, which was so maudlin, and so utterly pointless as Calvary

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