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REVIEW — “Calvary”

A dark comedy that uses pitch black humor to elevate an ever darker storyline, “Calvary” is an excellent movie, but can be incredibly depressing despite it’s very positive theme.


Written and Directed by  John Michael McDonagh, “Calvary” tells the story of an Irish Catholic priest (Brendan Gleeson) doing his best to shepherd his small flock. The small coastal town is home to an interesting variety of characters, each deeply flawed with major sins. The Priest does his best to help each of them in the most loving way possible, but with this group of odd numbskulls it’s not easy.  As one character phrases it, “He’s just a little too sharp for this parish.”


In the opening scene of this film, the Priest’s serene life is shattered.  One of the member’s of his church confesses that he was brutally abused by a different priest for many years as a child.  He’s reached a point in his life where he can no longer handle it, and he feels no one will take these accusations seriously.  That is, unless an innocent priest is murdered because of it.  This man tells him that he will kill him in exactly seven days, on a Sunday.   Although the Priest knows who this would-be-murderer is, the audience and the rest of the town is kept in the dark, and it plays as a bit of a mystery.  Which character is the potential killer? How does the Priest respond to him?  Will he be able to help them? Or will he lose his life in the process?


The movie has a lot to say about the current state of the Catholic Church.  The allegations against it, past and current, are brought up a number of times.  Much is made of the virtue of forgiveness, and how virtues are more important than sins.  Regardless of your personal stance on these matters, it is certainly food for thought.  As the Priest struggles to help others in a sea of incompassionate selfish people, we are reminded of the trials Christ endured, and how he chose to give his life with the hope that his sacrifice would save at least a handful of souls. In fact, the title refers directly to the suffering that Jesus experienced leading up to his Crucifixion.


While many people may be frightened off by the dark nature of the story, it is expertly written.  A number of moments are truly funny, and the movie as a whole has some of the sharpest dialogue this year.  If you’re looking for an intelligent, funny, break from the summer blockbusters, give this one a try.

4 out of 5 Stars


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