Monday 1 September 2014


I like my coffee like I like my comedy films, dark and Irish…  also cheap and from CeX. Except for the coffee. Eugh. I’m talking about Calvary by the way, the new film from John Michael McDonagh starring Brendan Gleeson and pretty much every actor from Ireland you’ve seen before. With a supporting cast featuring Chris O’Dowd from the IT Crowd, Dylan Moran from all those times you’ve laughed a lot during Black Books and Aidan Gillen from Queer as Folk and Game of Thrones.

It’s about Father James Lavelle (Gleeson), a priest in a small country town, trying everything he can do to make it a better place, and constantly being shocked and tested by all the bitter and twisted people he’s surrounded by. The film starts with a death threat from a mysterious voice directed at Father Lavelle. The death threat is prefixed by sentence “I first tasted semen when I was 7 years old”. I’m sure we all remember our first time, but at least some of us didn’t respond by waiting 30 years and then murdering a priest. Or maybe they did, I’m not very religious.

Father Lavelle has been given just over a week to come to terms with his impending murder. In the mean time a load of shenanigans occur; he is asked to assist in a suicide, visited by his daughter who also tried to commit suicide, domestic violence investigations occur and a very funny monologue from a man wanting to murder people (he decides to join the army) just add pressure to his mountains of stress. Sadly none of the things that happen to poor Father Lavelle are in the top 10 things to do when visiting Ireland, which is depicted with some great sky shots. It really reminded me of how beautiful this island I’m on really is, and then the suicide attempts and the murders remind more of the day-to-day feelings about the place.

Gleeson’s performance in this was outstanding, very understated and visceral and could win him a lot of fans if, for some reason, people who don’t like him go to see this film. Dylan Moran was also surprisingly good in this, despite playing a slightly different version of a drunk, grumpy Irish guy, he executed everything perfectly. He’s got one of those voices that just suit Samuel Beckett and Jameson's mixed together in a literary cocktail.

The only downside I would have to offer you in this instance is that the relationship between Father Lavelle and his daughter didn’t really seem to go anywhere. It may have been subtle though because I was painfully knackered despite the coffee and the film is definitely one of those ones you have to go see at least twice to truly get. Like Memento, but with more references to priests raping young boys. I know there are loads of subtleties that I missed out on, and one relatively big plot point that I can’t figure out. Slow pace, but full of tension, and it ends exactly how you’d want to. A satisfying film that will entertain you if you loved In Bruges and The Prisoner. It’s very much a dark comedy, and feels like Father Ted directed by the guy who did Requiem for a Dream and though I would urge you to see it, I don’t think you’ll be cracking it out along side ‘The Breakfast Club’ for pyjama parties.

It gets a 4/5.


Dave Roberts

Calvary at CeX

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