Sunday, August 24, 2014


What happens in the confessional stays in the confessional. According to Catholic law, any priest who violates the confidentiality of the booth will find himself excommunicated.

So if a priest happens to hear something dire after Mass one Sunday—like a death threat, to be carried out in one week—he has no recourse but to spend the next seven days combing through the community, hoping to identify the malcontent and diffuse the situation, or possibly even arm himself in self-defense.

At least, those would be the choices in an ordinary action thriller. But neither the Irish drama, Calvary, nor its writer and director, John Michael McDonagh, can be classified as ordinary.

Although much of the action follows the outline above, the film transcends its action, branching out into a poignant, often scathing, and even occasionally blackly humorous meditation on the human condition.
GoT fans will recognize Littlefinger in  Gleeson's wayward flock

And it mostly succeeds in its grand aims, thanks to a marvelously skilled and subtle performance by the great Brendan Gleeson in one of his best roles. He stars as a caring village priest whose parishioners practice most of the popular Deadly Sins.   

The film's seven Stations of the Cross symbology plays into McDonagh's larger themes of sin, virtue, sacrifice and redemption. But nothing in the film feels like a sermon. A barely recovered alcoholic widower who came late to the priesthood, Gleeson's Father James strives to be of some practical use to his parishioners.

And not by offering up a bunch of empty platitudes about God's will or Heaven and Hell

It's because he doesn't presume to tell anybody what God wants that Gleeson's flawed Father James is so appealing. (Read more)

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