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 (email@example.com)
Written and Performed by Townes van Zandt
Published by EMI United Partnership Ltd.
Licensed Courtesy of The Domino Recording Company Ltd. See more »
Bleak and disturbing
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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