Friday, August 1, 2014

Review: Calvary

Release date: August 1, 2014
Running time: 100 minutes
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Kelly Reilly, Chris O'Dowd
Who to see it with: A fan of DARK comedy


One of the aspects of Calvary that I loved was that there is no single theme that permeates the film. The movie deals with some complex issues in a refreshingly nuanced way, issues such as good vs. evil, old vs. new, orthodox vs. revisionist, hate vs. forgiveness. The film follows an old school catholic priest, Father Lavelle (Gleeson), who refuses to adopt to the modern approach to religion. He is not married, lives a relatively simple life, and dons the older-style cossack as opposed to some of the modern, kinder garb of the priesthood. Set after some truly horrific discoveries about the Catholic church in Ireland, Lavelle's flock is completely disenfranchised with the church and religion in general. 

The film is a DARK comedy, kind of the darkest of the dark. Lavelle is constantly under fire from his parish because of the sins of his institution, but doesn't help the situation with his old school mentality and unapologetically honest assessments of people. The movie is divided into three acts, with the mood becoming progressively darker as the film progresses. It works as a sort of who-done-it film, opening with a shocking revelation and then progressing as the priest deals with this information. The third act of the film loses most of the comedy, and although it doesn't bolster you mood, the experience of watching Father Lavelle is so great that you probably won't mind.

The heart of this movie is its acting, specifically the performance of Gleeson. Gleeson is phenomenal and really carries the film. His acting is believable and unforgiving, and seeing him plod away through the film is a joy despite the fairly depressing story. His daughter (Reilly) is another treat and the connection between the two actors is obvious on screen. Most of the other characters are good to serviceable, but some of them feel like they are extreme caricatures that can be entertaining, but also unrealistic enough to break the mood. Some of them feel like less stylized Wes Anderson characters. Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, the town is completely against Lavelle, which can be grating at times. However, part of that is by design because as the film progresses and becomes darker, you really start to feel the weight that Lavelle has to carry. Rarely do you get so invested in a character, and Calvary is one such opportunity. The film is a great, meticulously crafted experience that explores some common themes in a nuanced and unapologetic way. 

See it.

No comments:

Post a Comment