User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 36
  2. Negative: 4 out of 36

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  1. Aug 5, 2014
    8
    Surely one of the best films of the year. Brendan Gleeson's bittersweet look at the role of the Catholic Church in the lives of modern people is darkly emotional, hilarious and fantastically fascinating.
  2. Aug 4, 2014
    10
    This is my favourite movie of the year. Brilliant in all respects - funny, moving, thought provoking. One of those movies that make you sit there during the end credits simply trying to take it all in. Gleason is great and really needs to start getting the recognition he deserves.
  3. Aug 3, 2014
    10
    Finally a film that takes a serious look at faith and redemption, rather than either sneering or patronising people of faith. Brendan Gleeson is in fine form as Father James, a world weary priest who holds to the faith though surrounded by darkness and cynicism. The fact that a film could even have a priest who is a good man is a triumph of sorts in itself - in a world where anti-christian prejudice demands that all christians are portrayed as hypocrites at best or deviant perverts at worst. At the same time it confronts the disgraceful scandal of pedophilia without flinching. The film at its heart is about the search for redemption, but without succumbing to easy answers, and speaks of how each one of us must work out our salvation by confronting our own demons. Best film I have seen this year. Expand
  4. Aug 9, 2014
    1
    Despite a capable lead performance and beautiful location shots, this has got to be one of the worst new movies I have seen in a very, very long time. Besides its wholly predictable premise (which is easy to figure out even without spoilers), the picture features a cast of largely reprehensible characters (most of them depicted as grossly overwritten caricatures) spouting some of the most ridiculous dialogue I've ever heard come out of actors' mouths. In the spirit of charity, though, all I can say is forgive the filmmakers, for they clearly know not what they do. Expand
  5. Aug 3, 2014
    7
    "Calvary" stars Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd in this strange film both written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, At the outset let me say that I am a huge Brendan Gleeson fan and appreciate and respect almost everything in which I’ve ever seen him perform. He did not disappoint me in this film but, like watching a race car unable to go more than 15 mph, Mr. Gleeson’s character is locked into a script that is lacking in both credibility and common sense. Also, either cut from the original film or the result of just poor writing , or both, there are many unexplained scene and location changes that befuddle the viewer as well as pose unanswered questions regarding significant events that take place in the movie. Throughout the film the viewer is put into a dry, slow and melancholy mood as one searches for the good film that is somewhere within the one that was actually released. I give the film a 7 with both kudos and regrets to Mr. Gleeson for becoming enmeshed in this project. Expand
  6. Aug 23, 2014
    8
    In the opening scene, a priest (Brendan Gleeson) hears a threatening confession. He spends the rest of the film interacting with members of his community (most of whom aren't very devout or very nice) and preparing for his fate. The characters are intriguing and the actors playing them turn in compelling performances. The film's sense of mystery combines with the priest's complex moral perspective (and dashes of humor) to create a rich, absorbing experience. The outcome is so powerful that it ends in silence on screen and in the audience. Expand
  7. Aug 11, 2014
    8
    A few days of life of a Catholic priest in a small Irish town.
    I have no idea who would classify this movie as a comedy. It is a very serious (if not depressing) drama.

    Outstanding performance of a leading actor, Brendan Gleeson who plays Father James. Oscar caliber.
  8. Aug 25, 2014
    10
    This film which I imagine will be controversial is a power house. It does not leave you and you want to talk about it with other people. It tells of a priest in an Irish village who is the target of hatred from his neighbors because of the scandals that have dogged the church recently. The fierceness of this hatred against a man who is quite clearly innocent may strike some as improbable, but the film is not asking for the credibility a naturalistic film would. This is a fable with modern Ireland a calvary, and the wrongly targeted priest a type of Christ. It is moving, well shot, directed, and acted, especially by Brendan Gleeson. It should be seen. Expand
  9. Aug 19, 2014
    4
    “Calvary” opens with a man in the confessional booth telling the priest that he had been abused for 5 years when a child by a priest and since he is dead he will kill the priest he is talking to now as killing a bad priest would not make as strong a statement as killing an innocent one. The confessor tells the priest that he will give him a week, until next Sunday, to get his house in order before he kills him.

    As we meet each villager, and watch their reaction to and with the priest, we soon forget about the killing and who may have said the confession and issued the threat except for each day of the week appearing on the screen.

    Father James, played by Brendan Gleeson, joined the priesthood after his wife died and his adult daughter Fiona , played by Kelly Reilly, feels he left her behind. As he makes his parish rounds we get to meet citizens of the town, some who could have been the confessor. There is the butcher, Chris O’Dowd, who’s wife, Oria O’Rourke. has encounters with the immigrant lover Isaach De Bankole. We enter the home of the police inspector, Gary Lydon, who is in the middle of having sex with a male prostitute, Owen Sharpe. We meet an Atheist doctor, Aidan Gillen, and an extremely wealthy man, Dylan Moran, who thinks nothing of urinating on a million dollar painting he has bought. Along with these citizens we also meet a younger priest, David Wilmot, the Bishop David McSavage, a French woman, Marie-Josee Croze, who just lost her husband and an American writer M. Emmet Walsh. Last, but certainly not least, there is a very moving scene between Gleeson and a cannibalistic murderer,played by his son Domhnall Gleeson.

    There is a lot of humor in the exchanges between the priest and those who are challenging his convictions and those of the Catholic church, but as one tells him. “You are just too sharp for this parish,” which turns out to be the truth.

    The screenplay by John Michael McDonagh, who also directed, goes into faith, forgiveness and the many weaknesses of man, and woman, without, obviously, picking sides. He has also filmed the picture in the county Sligo which shows off the lush greens of Ireland along with the cliffs and coasts surrounding it.

    Each cast member gets a scene to stand out and they meet the challenge but it is Brendan Gleeson and Kelly Reilly, who intrigued me in the TV series “Black Box”, that command your attention during the whole film.

    “Calvary” is getting 5 star reviews but I left thinking that maybe if I was Irish or Catholic or a priest, a murderer or a sinner I might have liked it better. Being a sinner I did appreciate much of the dialogue and as a movie lover I certainly admired the acting but the bottom line is that I can’t recommend the film.

    By the way there are two very violent scenes and the last 2 minutes of the film, if I understood it correctly, was a stunner.
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  10. Aug 1, 2014
    6
    There is a lot to like and admire in 'Calvary', not least a compelling opening demonstrating Brendan Gleeson's skill as an actor, and a strong ending with a powerful final moment. These two stand out scenes book end a film which, whilst containing great ensemble acting and intelligent writing, is to loosely directed to be totally successful. There is no real narrative drive beyond its almost inevitable conclusion. Gleeson is superb as the very human priest under threat of being murdered by a member of his own community. Living with this knowledge and battling his own demons he still carries on with the day to day effort of positively influencing the disparate bunch of characters he encounters on a daily basis. The screenplay, which takes place over the course of a week, examines the differing views on the church; from its hypocrisies, the cynicism of the non believers, to the almost obsessive nature of the converted. It is all served up with a delicious dose of black humour (I love the line ' Friends are enemies you've not made yet') which successfully makes its points without trivialising the serious nature of the film generally.
    It certainly holds the attention and can also boast a fine supporting cast from which Chris O'Dowd stands out as the local butcher.
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Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Aug 20, 2014
    58
    Calvary becomes a lurid Agatha Christie yarn with something important to say about the church and Ireland that McDonagh can't fully articulate. Pulp keeps getting in the way.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 15, 2014
    60
    Calvary is most assuredly not a comedy. It is a weighty, powerful drama -- albeit one with comic moments -- that dabbles in weighty, powerful themes.
  3. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Aug 14, 2014
    75
    Gleeson is great as the troubled, conscientious priest, but until an abruptly shocking finale, his fatalism turns the ticking clock into a congested hourglass.