Movie Review: CALVARY - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Terry's Take

Movie Review: CALVARY

The great Irish actor Brendan Gleeson stars as a Catholic priest in a new movie called CALVARY, an usual mix of comedy and tragedy.

CALVARY is a serious but also playful movie about what it's like to be a good priest in the modern world where many people consider religion irrelevant and where thousands of priests have been found guilty of molesting children.

The movie is full of eccentric characters, but what really makes it worth seeing is the charismatic Gleeson in the lead role.

Priest (in confessional): I'm hear to listen to whatever you have to say.

Parishioner: I'm going to kill you, Father.

Priest: That's certainly a startling opening line.

The unseen man talking to Father James was repeatedly molested by a different priest when he was a young boy. But that priest is no longer living.

Parishioner: There's no point in killing a bad priest, but killing a good one, that would be a shock. I'm gonna kill you because you're innocent. 

In this very first scene Brendan Gleeson as Father Fames is set up as a Christ figure, a man who may have to die for the sins of others. Father James knows which parishioner in his small town has threatened his life, but the audience doesn't. And though Father James could go to the police, he doesn't. As the movie unfolds, we meet a number suspects.

Mechanic: Run along now Father. Your sermon is finished.

Butcher: So you're sure there's a god then, Father?

Rich man: There will be no punishment for a man such as myself. There never is.

Bartender: He (the priest) needs to be taken down a peg or two.

Father James runs into sarcasm and contempt everywhere he goes. He's walking down a road next to a young girl when a car drives up and screeches to a stop. A man (obviously the girl's father) gets out.

Man: Jeannie! Get in the car! What were you sayin' to her?

Father James: I wasn't saying anything to her.

Father James is a wise and compassionate man who entered the priesthood late, after his wife died. But his adult daughter from that marriage feels like she has lost both her parents. She's come from London to visit him in this small seaside village.

Daughter: You don't have any photographs, not even one of Mum.

Father: I don't need a photograph to remember your mother.

The audience never knows what's coming next: a funny bit of dialogue:

Butcher (speaking to the priest about his unfaithful wife): I think she's bi-polar or lactose intolerant. one of the two.

or some serious discussion:

Father James (to a woman whose husband has died): What is faith? For most people, it's the fear of death, no more than that. If that's all it is, it's very easy to lose.

Obviously, CALVARY is not aimed at a wide audience, but it's a thought provoking film that will stay with you for awhile.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.            thunter@hawaiinewsnow.com
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