"Comedic tragedy" is more like it
Waking Ned Devine is a dark comedy, as is Bernie. This ends in true tragic fashion after sprinkles of dark humor along the way. Not what I was expecting.
Still, Gleeson was dignified, burdened, honest, courageous, almost inspiring. Oddly hopeful in spite of the darkness.
Dark, Bleak, Depressing, and Pointless
This film was marketed as a "black comedy." It was not - though it was certainly black. Nothing funny happening here by a long mile. It's an awful film - a depressing and grim story. Not a single character is redeemable, nor do any of them seem to want to be redeemed. As I watched, I was wondering if there were some deeper meaning to the film that I was missing: is Gleeson's character supposed to be Christ-like? Are the people of the town emblematic of the evils of the World? In the end, I just wanted it to be over so I could go take a shower and wash away the sick feeling this film gave me. Avoid this film unless you're feeling suicidal. It's too heavy by far.
Hauntingly beautiful masterwork. It towers above this year's Oscar nominated movies. The performances, by all hands, are transcendent.
No one has given a better performance ,in any film this year, to match that of Gleeson.
By Jinx 56
Depressing, slow moving movie. Great actors but not a good movie. Not Funny or engaging story. I realize it was supposed to be black humor but it did not succeed.
Depressing and Pointless
Spoiler Alert, Sort Of: Please know there is a graphic violent end to the film. Also an episode of animal cruelty. There is one fine performance. But the ending is contrived to produce a whopping big pay-off by killing off the one admirable character to no purpose whatsoever. There is no point to the film. Although we were considering a trip the very afternoon before we saw Calvary, we cannot even think about visiting Ireland now.
I saw "The Guard," and loved it. This film, "Calvary," was from the same creative team. It just didn't grab me although I kept waiting and hoping it would.
Good but Not The Least Bit Funny
By Parmelee Rick
Excellent but depressing. Whoever thought this was a "Hilarious black comedy" is just plain sick. A couple of lines were slightly amusing in their sarcasm but this wasn't anywhere near a comedy, black or otherwise.
Brings up many interesting controversial topics.
If this town existed ...
By John Tracey
... We might want to have walls built around it. Everyone in town essentially seems evil, with their main hobby being to torment the priest (Gleeson's performance is wonderful, actually) with their own vileness, taunt him with stories of how his God is cruel to children, call his daughter a prostitute, threaten him, fling cigarettes at him, mock his faith with their sexual and violent predilection. I wanted to like the movie but it just made me think about math. Nobody draws a parish like this. Nobody. And I've left out the most egregious of the assaults against him.
Solitude and Consequence in Faith
John Michael McDonagh's follow up to "The Guard" is about as close to flawless as a movie can hope to get. After I first saw this film I expected it to sweep all top honors for 2014. While I didn't think it had a huge box office potential, I did think it would do well. It was met with a great deal of praise, but it barely caught audience attention when it was released. Most tragically, Brendan Gleeson's amazing performance seemed to be forgotten. It is really hard to understand how and why.
Brendan Gleeson's "Father James" chose to be a priest after the death of his wife. This seems to be a source of frustration from his troubled adult daughter. When she encages him in a discussion of sin and the confessional, he responds with a serious but almost passively conveyed comment, "I think forgiveness has been highly underrated."
Set in a small and somewhat isolated Irish seaside town, the film begins with Father James taking confession. He is not able to see the parishioner on the other side. This Catholic tells him that he was molested by a priest when he was an alter boy. It has ruined this man's life.
Father James is clearly upset for this man and attempts to find a way to help him beyond his role as a Priest. The man is not interested in help. He is interested in justice. Or, more to the point -- vengeance. Without any evident concern or pause, he informs Father James that he will have to kill him in a week's time. His reasoning is that by his killing an innocent Priest, he not only gains vengeance against The Catholic Church but also gains equal justice by killing an "innocent" vs. killing a "guilty" priest.
And it is with this that the movie moves forward. McDonagh is not particularly interested in approaching the film as a thriller or mystery. As we follow Father James throughout his week it becomes apparent that while he is concerned about the threat, he is far more concerned with helping his flock.
The film becomes a provocative examination of faith, redemption and validity of the existence of Father James' role and life itself. Larry Smith's cinematography is exceptional as always. Brendan Gleeson is truly remarkable as are all the supporting players.
While one could easily refer to this film as dark -- even grim movie. There is something about Father James' dignity and pursuits that pulls us toward some feeling of hope. The film's conclusion comes like a gut-punch.
If you missed this film, seek it out now. Brilliant work.