Saturday, December 20, 2014

12 Movies Of Christmas: Calvary (2014)


 'Calvary': A Comedy-Drama With A Delicate Balance Of Heavenly Laughs And Deep, Devilish Emotion

     Whenever we are under great times of distress, we always want to find a kindred spirit in somebody. Whether it'd be a parent, counselor, sibling, or a priest, we always try to find open ears. But, in my opinion, Calvary shows in a unique manner what could happen when those open ears slowly close and we might have nobody to find solstice in.

     Calvary follows the story of a priest named Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) who receives a death threat during a confession. Afterwards, he spends an entire week before his planned execution by unravelling his inner demons while confronting his fellow townsfolk.

     First, I'll get into the performance by Brendan Gleeson as Father James. Gleeson brilliantly plays his role with great restraint that allows him to showcase different layered emotions, ranging from fury to rough compassion to charming warmth. He even manages to provide some comedic weight to his performance filled with such heavy dramatic emotions. Not only did I like the scenes where he interacts with the different townspeople, but some of the highlights include the scenes between him and Kelly Reilly, who plays his suicidal daughter Fiona. Those scenes provide quite a bit of heart and show us the more comforting and vulnerable side to Gleeson's more detached character. Even though James is the main character and a priest that is supposed to be rather comforting, James is more of a distant anti-hero that relies less on our sympathy.

     But not only does James hardly rely on our sympathy, but we see how he struggles to be the "good priest" that the at-first unseen killer says that he is. The way I see it, the film deals with the idea of what could happen when the person of a higher power who we need to be the voice of reason doesn't do much speaking. One can only conceal their emotions so greatly, that they can come off so coldly. Since the film mainly deals with the interactions between the characters, that is how I personally interpreted the thematic material.

    Not only did I like the performances by Gleeson and Reilly, but I liked how the other actors portrayed their vastly different characters. Chris O'Dowd, who you may remember as the cop from Bridesmaids, provides some slight humor and a surprising amount of pathos to his portrayal of the town butcher. There is also Orla O'Rourke, who plays the oversexualized Veronica, Pat Shortt as the local bartender Brendan, Isaach de Bankole as Veronica's Ivorian boyfriend Simon, and Dylan Moran as lonely billionaire Michael Fitzgerald. All of whom bring rather interesting laughs as well as deep drama. But Brendan Gleeson' real-life son Domhnall has a small scene as a young convict that James visits and he almost brought a couple tears out of me.


      Overall, Calvary is an intimate comedy-drama about the importance of interaction as well as family. The performances by the cast, especially Gleeson, are all spot-on and the writing/direction by John Michael McDonagh is beautifully yet powerfully woven together. This one is bound to make the church bells ring.

      Would I Recommend It?:
      To certain people. While it is a wonderful film, it has a good amount of talking which won't be for everybody. But because Brendan Gleeson played "Mad-Eye" Moody, I would recommend it to fans who would recognize him from Harry Potter.

Grade: B+