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There are those actors… after seeing Tom Hardy’s solo performance in “Locke”, I can just write the same about Brendan Gleeson: Nothing can go wrong when you build a film around Gleeson’s presence, nothing! I 100 per cent trust in Gleeson either elevating whatever he plays in to something at least very good, or to turn down the part if he decides that’s not possible. But there is little to worry in a film written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, who some years ago already teamed up with Gleeson and made an unforgettable nasty little local cop film, “The Guard” ( “Bad Lieutenant” with Irish characteristics).

“Calvary” starts with a confession in which the confessant does not confess, but instead announces that sometimes it is necessary to commit evil in order to highlight the evil of others. He will, this dark figure in the confession booth declares, kill Father James in a couple of days. The priest has done nothing wrong, but he represents an evil tribe of priests that tortured Ireland and the world with their pedophilia and cover-up for such a long time. Killing the good one only stresses the point more profoundly, is the logic.

Father James is a good man, has lived through a life of experience and had his share of suffering. He did not plummet into priesthood by accident, but at a mature age, after marriage and having a kid. It is no surprise that his reaction to the announced murder is not to run and shout, to call the police and call bloody murder. He is mostly doing his job, talking to dysfunctional families, giving last blessings at the hospitals (where Aidan Gillen awaits him and unloads his frequent share of acid cynicism on whoever stands in front of him or lies on his surgeon’s operating table – it’s Thomas Carcetti and Patyr Baelish all over again), or getting wasted in the pub. There is plenty of tension in his community as it is, and the few times the pressure of his possible fate gets to him he takes it on in a rather Welsh-manly fashion, bare knuckle pub fight included. He appears all the more human for these failings, he is no superhuman spiritual person, he is a man whose job it is to provide comfort and spiritual guidance to others, but he is out of gas, a vulnerable human about to be killed, the clock ticking.

Great film making, with that particular local flair and beautiful seaside and countryside backdrops that are sometimes in painful contrast to the wretched things that are happening in the foreground.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/calvary_2013/

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