Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Now on HBO: Calvary (2014).

Calvary (2014) - Written and Directed John Michael McDonagh; Starring Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly.

By Kenny Howell

The McDonagh brothers, John Michael and Martin, have carved out a niche for themselves, making films that are very, well, McDonaghian.

They both lean toward to the dark violent comedies with whip snap dialogue that leaves you laughing, sometimes uncomfortably, while someone is getting a bullet in the head. Martin did it with In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, and John Michael did it with The Guard.

Calvary does have those laughs, but it feels a bit heavier than any of those other works. Part of that has to do with the subject, which is the community's distrust of the Catholic church, and the man that is held responsible for it.

He is Father James (Gleeson), and when we first meet him, he is in a confessional booth, listening to a man say that he is going to kill him in seven days. The reason being that he was sexually assaulted by a priest when he was young, and he is choosing James as the person that has to take the fall for it. The priest that did it to him had since passed.

Father James is not sure really what to do, or to take it seriously, so he goes on with his week. But it just so happens that it is going to be a really crappy week. He is trying to reconnect with his daughter (Reilly), who he has had a strained relationship with the last several years. Also, he is constantly confronted with people's anger at the Catholic Church after the fallout of the scandal which saw several priests accused of sexual assault of young boys. It forces him to come to grips with himself and his faith while the clock ticks away on him.

While I think Calvary does try to reach a bit higher than either of the McDonagh's previous works, I still feel about the same as I do about all the others. I like it quite a bit, but it is not something that I put in the upper echelon of recent films. They both do solid work, and there definitely is a place for them in cinema today. Calvary is no exception.

Calvary is currently playing on HBO.

Rating: ***

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