Film Review “Calvary”

Calvary_movieposterStarring: Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd
Directed by: John Michael McDonagh
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 40 mins
Fox Searchlight

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

On a Sunday morning, while hearing confession, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is told by the confessor that he plans to kill him in exactly one week. This is how our story begins. And it is all downhill from there.

If it were not for the support of Gleeson this film would collapse on itself from the weight of its pretension and cheesy performances. Gleeson carries this film entirely, but even his likability (as a person and as the character) is not enough to save this film from falling flat. Being that it was financed by the Irish Film Board is surprising considering the film paints all of the inhabitants that we meet in this small Irish town as disgusting, depraved, and horrible human beings. Save, of course, for Father James.

The biggest hindrance here, in my opinion, is the writing. It seems too self-aware and tries to be clever while, at the same time, calling attention to its supposed wit. Each character speaks too well to be believable. There are a myriad of literary references thrown about and each one is picked up almost immediately by another character without hesitation. I am all for being literate and learned, but this was too scripted.

Gleeson’s performance is the only believable one, and even he didn’t seem to be bringing his A-game. That being said, what he is putting out is far beyond that of the rest of the cast. Gleeson’s performance, and the amazing scenery of the coastal Irish town in which the film takes place, are what kept me watching the film, though I also must admit to watching the clock on my cellphone to see how much I had left to sit through. This film is full of quirky, dark characters, but none of them are funny or amusing enough for it to be comical. While at the same time I didn’t care enough about the characters to view this film as the drama it is intended to be. It’s as if the filmmakers wanted the film to be a Best Picture contender, but one with the low-brow humor of an Apatow comedy. Unfortunately it is far from either.

If the audience pays attention to voices, it is easy to know to whom the threatening voice belongs. And it’s no surprise when we reach the climactic final scene and that person is revealed. Of course, I don’t think it was intended to be much of a mystery. I knew nothing about this film when walking into it, but felt positive based on Brendan Gleeson’s track record. Sadly, while HE doesn’t disappoint just about every other facet of this film does.

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