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Published August 3rd 2014
***Please note there are spoilers in this review***
A voice in the darkness ~ "I first tasted semen when I was 7 years old" ~ so begins the startling statement in the confessional. The confessor goes on to tell Father James about his years as a victim at the hands of a Catholic priest who sexually abused him as a boy. He however cannot get satisfaction or closure as the priest who abused him has passed away. He tells Father James that he in return intends to take an innocent from the church, to kill a good man, an innocent good priest like Father James. He gives the good Father a week to get his life in order and promises to kill him the following Sunday on the beach.
Father James gets on with his day to day role as a priest in this small coastal village in Ireland, which almost seems devoid of inhabitants. He is surrounded by a small community with weighty issues. He handles all their problems with humour, sensitivity, intelligence and no nonsense honesty. In the midst of it all, his troubled daughter comes to visit after a failed suicide attempt. He had been married before he joined the priesthood, and only received his calling after he lost his wife.
The film does a countdown of the days to the Sunday he is to be killed. You will meet many characters in the days prior, each with their own issues and questions about their faith. Brendan Gleeson as the priest plays a good natured character who is highly intelligent and handles issues with common sense that is sometimes at odds with the beliefs of the Catholic Church. At the core of it all, he administers comfort, resolution, forgiveness and understanding to his parishioners and doggedly reinforces his strong belief to the disbelievers, the weary and those whom have lost their way and feel a sense of disassociation, that God is good.
The Butcher, the unfaithful wife, the lover, the young altar boy, the dissatisfied rich man, the atheist doctor, the sinister police inspector, the old author, the publican, the male prostitute, the convicted cannibal (played by Brendan Gleeson's real life son) and the shy bow-tied young man are some of the rich characters you will meet along the way. You will chuckle at sentences like "It would be a black day when the church is no longer interested in money" and many others as the movie is injected with humour. "Every moment of living has its own meaning and logic" will have you nodding in agreement at the discovery of its truth. I do not see this movie as a mystery as the priest knows who threatened him in the confessional, even though it is not revealed to us. He simply gets on with his days preceding the Sunday going about his business of caring for everyone yet fighting his own demons and examining his life as he climbs the mountain of resigned acceptance to Calvary. No great shakes at the box office but still a good little movie to watch that will hold your interest with its lyrical language and colourful characters. A 7 out of 10 from me.
I watched this movie with my mum the other week, and although I am not as generous as the reviewer, I do agree with her opinion of this very, very bleak movie.
I did not walk out uplifted or joyous but more in a state of shock and confusion since there are more questions then answers ... or maybe there are just no answers.