I heard a discussion of a new movie, Calvary, on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review yesterday; it sounds pretty damn interesting.

The Irish Times has a review.

The predictably flawless Brendan Gleeson plays Father James Lavelle, a decent priest serving the needs of an absurdly colourful Sligo community, whose world is upended by an unexpected encounter in the confessional.

A troubled parishioner – unseen by us, but apparently known to our hero – explains that, having been abused by clerics as a child, he intends to exact revenge by killing James in one week’s time.

There is a terrible logic to his scheme. The annihilation of a guilty priest will provoke only so much rending of garments. The murder of an innocent man will, however, really hammer home how troublesome any association with the discredited Catholic Church has become.

Ok…I want to see that.

On the other hand the review goes on to say that what the rest of the movie does with that setup is a mess, so maybe I don’t want to see it. But the setup…yes, that’s interesting.

The Guardian on the other hand says it’s terrific.

In the darkness of the confession box, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) learns he is about to be killed. Behind the grille, a shadowy parishioner explains that he was abused as a child and is hellbent on revenge. Father James, as a representative of the church, has been selected to take the fall; the good priest parachuted in to deputise for the bad. His crucifixion is booked for the following Sunday, just down on the beach. The priest now has a week to put his own house in order.

Part of why the setup is interesting is because the good priests make the bad ones possible. Good people don’t belong in the Catholic church, because it’s not a good institution.




  1. screechymonkey says

    I’m less interested in the “guilt by association” aspect as by the question of how the priest can complain when his religion and vocation are based on the notion that vicarious punishment/sacrifice is morally acceptable.

  2. sarah00 says

    I saw this film today and would highly recommend it to anyone. It was terrific. It had really black humour and really emotional moments that had me in tears. The cinema wasn’t particularly full but at the end no one moved for several minutes, which isn’t something I’ve experienced in a long time.

    I don’t want to say anything about the plot though in some respects it’s not the plot that matters. It’s a character piece and Brendan Gleeson is mesmerising.

  3. Morgan says

    It’s from the writer/director (and separately the lead actor) of The Guard, too, which was a blast. The premise had me worried too, but if people here are saying it avoids the potential pitfalls (which from the trailer seemed to me to be: “please don’t call for forgiveness all around while the Church is still the shower of bastards they are”), then it’s certainly worth a shot.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Crimson Clupeidae @ # 5: … limited play here in the states.

    They may have to splice in more explosions, cleavage, and car chases.

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