14Apr Calvary- John Michael McDonagh’s New Film

Calvary- John Michael McDonagh’s New Film

“Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved.”

“Do not presume, one of the thieves was damned”

John Michael McDonagh suggests he is influenced by this quote by its inclusion at the start of Calvary. Attributed to Augustine of Hippo, valued by Beckett it is a hinge to hang this film on. Winner of three I.F.T.As before it went on general release in Ireland, acclaimed “a masterpiece” it set them dancing at Sundance and was seen as brilliant in Berlin.

Brendan Gleeson is no Fr. Ted. He puts in a powerful performance holding together a plot that moves towards a scene on a strand that rivals any showdown in a Western. Individual scenes are sometimes hard to believe. Under Ben Bulben is the greatest collection of weird parishioners you could imagine, who all receive at Mass on the tongue like altar servers. They attend a wooden Church that looks like it was from the Bible belt. Disbelief is suspended and Kelly Reilly’s performance as Fr. Lavelle’s daughter is well done. The salvific notion of forgiveness shows up the way dysfunctional people are welded into their mad behaviours. When faced with forgiveness, kindness and real presence they scamper off into their small protective insanities.

Brendan Gleeson gets to play what today is seen as a rare commodity- “a good priest”. He has presence, real presence that is offering people a glimpse of redemption but so often only shows up their own darkness. In trying to get into the mind of an abused child it shows the way that child’s life and his mind have been destroyed. Gleeson becomes the sponge and mirrors what the enduring message of the Nazarene tried to show us in his life and ministry.

Tolle Vide!

One Response

  1. Clare Hannigan

    I brought two of my adult children to see the film last evening. They thought it very dark but also very good. I think it gave them an insight into the priesthood of which they were not aware. They also enjoyed seeing favourite actors playing serious and challenging roles. I think it a film well worth seeing.