Calvary presents the viewer with a very particular week in the life of a small-town priest in modern Ireland. Father James — played with thickened, toughened, but still lively and sharp-witted humanity by Brendan Gleeson — labors, as we all do, under a sentence of death. The difference in his case is that he knows when it’s coming: on Sunday, and at the hands of one of his flock. His killer, who delivers the date through a confessional screen, was sexually abused for years as a child, and has decided that the only revenge worth seeking is the killing of a “good priest.” How to pass the time until the confrontation? For Father, the answer is mostly by being what he is, and tending to his duties. Writer-director John Michael McDonagh (The Guard) paints a rich portrait of the priestly life (and life in general) by concentrating on the details; the cloudbanks of ordinary sin and ordinary suffering that thrill and vex his congregation, highlighted by occasional sunbursts of extraordinary pain and extraordinary — well, let’s just say it — grace. 2014.
- Interview with Calvary writer-director John Michael McDonagh • August 13, 2014