Friday, August 22, 2014

movie review: CALVARY (2014)


(reviews may contain spoilers for those that have never seen the film or are unfamiliar with the characters.)

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CALVARY (2014)

Father James is the senior priest in a small hamlet on the Irish Coast. He knows everyone by name, and everyone knows him as well.

It was a usual Sunday, preaching sermons and hearing confessions. However, today's confessional included something rather unique. One parishioner said he would be killing someone at the end of next week….Father James!

Being magnanimous, he does give Father James a week to prepare for his eventual demise.

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This film wasn't on my radar this morning, when I went to check movie times. But, I saw a trailer and the premise intrigued me.

What is said in a confessional is supposed to be kept confidential; between you, the priest and God. Would Father James break that oath to save his life? I wanted to know.

Make sure you get to the theater before the movie starts as there is no wiggle room before the confessional scene, and it's a lot more than simply "I'm going to kill you."

Additionally, I need to say right up front, you really need to leave the kiddies at home. Calvary earned it's R rating with violence, adult language and subjects including pedophilia, homosexuality and adultery. I would not want to have to explain to the young ones what they're talking about at times.

It's obvious, almost from the beginning, that Father James (Brendan Gleeson) knows who his adversary is. However, writer/director John Michael McDonagh (Ned Kelly, The Guard), kept us in suspense pretty much till the end.

Several times I said to myself, "AHA!!" Only to catch myself saying it again a few minutes later when another person meets with the priest.

Besides Gleeson, the film includes an ensemble cast as unique as the characters they portray.

Filmed in relatively secluded County Sligo, of northwest Ireland, the scenery helps paint the feeling that you're far away from the big city, in a sleepy little village.

The film did seem to drag on at times because the first two-thirds of the film has very little sound track to it, and what little there is is at a very low volume. Only, when we're getting to the end does the volume reach a fever pitch.

Most of the movie's 105 minute running time surrounds Father James trying to convince them to change their ways before its too late, all the while battling his own issues.

In prepping to write this review I came upon a couple of references suggesting this was wickedly funny. For the life of me, I couldn't find any humor that I'd label funny. It's part drama, part suspense.

This film will not be for everyone. I left the theater in a bit of a funk. Not because it was such a depressing film. But, because it was emotionally intense, percolating to a dull roar from the very beginning.

RATED: 6.75 out of 10 STARS

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Calvary is currently in limited release nationwide, showing nearby at the California and Piedmont Theatres at least through next Thursday.

A full listing of show times and locations can be found at Fandango.

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