Dir: John Michael McDonagh
Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) is hearing confession when a bombshell hits: He will be killed at the end of the week because of abuse committed by others. As the next seven days unfold James continues his care for his community; amongst domestic violence and family issues he is beset by the unbelief of his parishioners. His daughter from a pre-ordination relationship visits after a suicide attempt. All the while the spectre of Calvary looms.
As you might have discerned this is not a cheery film. It is, however, funny in a very black way. Throughout his travails, Fr. James keeps his sense of humour amidst a streak of world-weary exasperation. But make no mistake, this is a dark film that will be hard going for some. Moments of optimism arise and thankfully they are bright indeed, especially in contrast. Fortunately there is more to this than bleakness. McDonagh’s previous movie with Gleeson, The Guard was a fish-out-of-water tale and in a sense this is too: a priest with a realistic faith attacked on all sides by the abrasive doubt of others. A strong supporting cast features Chris O’Dowd (The Sapphires), Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones), Domhnall Gleeson (It’s About Time), Dylan Moran (Black Books) and Kelly Reilly (Flight). Each contributes immensely to create more than the sum of their parts.
In the end this is all about self-sacrifice and vocation: to what extent does one equal the other? Whilst the final moment might be slightly over-egged, the parallels with Holy Week and the inexorable lurch towards Golgotha are clear. As such it is a film that stays with you. It might not be for everyone, but for those who choose to take the trek to Calvary, it will never be forgotten.
This film is in limited release. Watch for it soon on DVD or through on-line sources like i-tunes etc.