Monday, August 11, 2014

"Calvary": A formerly married Irish priest (with family) pays for the sins of his peers

Calvary” (directed by John Michael McDonagh), as a movie title, refers to the Christian concept, not to the military one (which the poster image almost confers).  Indeed, it’s about something heavy:  we sometimes wind up having to pay for the sins of others. 
The first image of the script is Father James (Brendan Gleeson) in a confessional box, close-up even though the movie is full wide-screen.  The first words come from the confessor, Jack (Chris O’Dowd), saying that he first tasted male semen at seven years old.  We know that  this is a film at least indirectly about the Roman Catholic priests’ scandal.  Jack threatens  James, announcing he will kill James the following Sunday precisely because he is innocent, but perhaps morally smug. He will share the price of the guilt of his peers.

The film opens up, showing us the Irish coast, as James prepares the last week of his life.

James himself has a troubled daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly); he had become a priest and taken the vows of abstinence (let alone future celibacy) after his wife died.  He live simply, with few possessions.  The film has one chapter for each day of the week, as  James mixes with the townspeople, even in bars.  Things happen.  The little wooden church is torched.  His dog, who dearly loves him, is killed, his throat found slit.  Finally, the execution must come on the beach, the following Sunday, and James does not avoid it or flinch.  And Jack is quite happy to turn himself end and spend the rest of his life in prison.  Because of the abuse, his life otherwise has no meaning.  This is a curious view of justice.

The official site is here , from Fox Searchlight.

I saw this film late Sunday at Angelika Mosaic in Merrifield, VA.  There was a small audience, but a young couple nearby really seemed to enjoy the film.  

First picture: a county fair; last two, fro, Ireland, 1990s, Mother's estate, her visit in 1980s (I think they are Northern Ireland).  

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