Calvary

Metascore
77

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

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  • Summary: Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good priest who is faced with sinister and troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish. Although he continues to comfort his own fragile daughter (Kely Reilly) and reach out to help members of his church with their variousFather James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good priest who is faced with sinister and troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish. Although he continues to comfort his own fragile daughter (Kely Reilly) and reach out to help members of his church with their various scurrilous moral—and often comic—problems, he feels sinister forces closing in, and begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary. Collapse
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Aug 8, 2014
    100
    Calvary is also just jaw-droppingly beautiful. McDonagh and cinematographer Larry Smith capture the four-seasons-in-one-day miracle that is Ireland, with its jagged stonescapes, roiling surf, fairie towns, and bracing skies.
  2. Reviewed by: Andrew Lowry
    May 16, 2014
    100
    Anchored by a truly sensational performance from Gleeson, this unexpected blend of passion play, detective story, rural comedy and serious inquiry into faith is destined for classic status.
  3. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 31, 2014
    90
    McDonagh walks a hazardous tightrope from scene to scene, from amiable comedy to black-hearted farce to heartbreaking tragedy, often trying to strike all those notes within seconds. It doesn’t all work equally well, but the cumulative effect is powerful.
  4. Reviewed by: Josh Kupecki
    Aug 13, 2014
    78
    With Calvary, John Michael McDonagh (who wrote and directed "The Guard" and is the brother of Martin “In Bruges” McDonagh) has crafted a darkly hilarious and deeply ruminative update on the passion play.
  5. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Jul 31, 2014
    75
    Some of Calvary is uncomfortably bleak... But writer-director John Michael McDonagh—brother of the English playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)—has an ear for wry humor, providing his characters with a steady supply of acerbic wit.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Aug 1, 2014
    67
    Gleeson is a wonderful actor and he keeps a lid on the blarney. He manages to convey a lot – fear, anger, compassion, rue – with only the slightest of squints and frowns. But he’s still the center of a cooked-up cavalcade of souls.
  7. 40
    Those shots are in contrast to those landscapes, which are craggy, primordial. It’s meant to be a haunting combination, and I have colleagues who’ve found it just that, who came out of the movie ashen, devastated. But I found it bludgeoning — I think it gives new meaning to the phrase hammer of God.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 30
  2. Negative: 3 out of 30
  1. 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 sitThis 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. Expand
  2. Sep 21, 2014
    10
    This was extremely well done. The visuals, the script, the music, the pace and the acting were all top notch. I would not say it wasThis was extremely well done. The visuals, the script, the music, the pace and the acting were all top notch. I would not say it was hilarious, but it had me chuckle at the witty lines throughout. My enjoyment of it came primarily just because it was such a high quality product, with several parallel ideas working well together. Very polished yet relaxed and not forced somehow. The audience is not forced to strain to understand obscure references or tortured with overly complex plot lines, but the ideas were deep and could elicit great conversation afterwards in any group of watchers. Even though it uses what you might think of as hackneyed vehicles such as the "good priest" and the "bitter atheist" to convey its ideas, it does so incredibly deftly and I was left just admiring the result. Surely better than the incredibly over-rated Boyhood, which I also enjoyed but which was not nearly as well done as this. I want to give this a 9 but I would say 9.5 because even while it had a few shortfall moments that had me feeling disappointed, they were rescued immediately by the pacing and the next good idea in the script. Expand
  3. Jan 17, 2015
    9
    An emotionally stirring, resonant, and beautiful film, Calvary is one of the best films of 2014 without a shadow of a doubt. Brendan GleesonAn emotionally stirring, resonant, and beautiful film, Calvary is one of the best films of 2014 without a shadow of a doubt. Brendan Gleeson is wondrous in the lead role, while Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Dylan Moran, and Domhnall Gleeson, are also very good in their roles. Calvary brilliantly bends genres between dark comedy, mystery, and drama, throughout with many moments causing you to laugh, think, and cry. The film is brilliantly directed and written by John Michael McDonagh and the cinematography is also worthy of mention as it is gorgeous, helped in large part thanks to the absolutely breathtaking scenery in the area where it was shot. Truly gorgeous stuff and the camera took advantage of all of it. A film that is essentially about the Catholic Church and the role that it and God play in the lives of different people, Calvary succeeds on the back of that great acting I mentioned, as well as how powerful it truly is. It is a film that leaves you in silence and on the brink of tears. Expand
  4. 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
    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.
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  5. Apr 18, 2015
    7
    Now this was an odd watch for me. With really nice direction and cinematography, along with a great cast and witty dialogue this film shouldNow this was an odd watch for me. With really nice direction and cinematography, along with a great cast and witty dialogue this film should be a high scorer. Yet, i can't help but find this film has something missing. Gleeson's character comes across many interesting people through his story and each one adds to the film and develops the bigger idea of why people would want to kill a priest. The film concludes reasonably well but yet the film still does not feel full. It seems in a way that this dark comedy gem is trying to make too many connections at once and make almost all their characters stock characters of sorts (albeit them all being played well). So for at the moment i can't help but feel this film only should get a 7, but i do want to give it more. I think this may be a film you need to watch a few times over to fully appreciate maybe. Once i have watched it again i may adjust my score but for now i'm sticking with a 7 Expand
  6. Mar 8, 2015
    6
    Brendan Gleeson’s portrayal of Father James, the tormented priest, is what saves this film from being a confusing morass of conflictingBrendan Gleeson’s portrayal of Father James, the tormented priest, is what saves this film from being a confusing morass of conflicting philosophies. Father James, a priest in a small countryside parish in Ireland, is haunted, lonely, and struggling with a number of demons. He still mourns his late wife, whose death drove him to become a priest; he has a disaffected relationship with his adult daughter (Kelly Reilly) who visits him after having recently attempted suicide; and he is a borderline alcoholic. His most intimate relationship is with Bruno, his dog.

    The film starts out with Father James in the confession box. A parishioner, whom Father James recognizes by voice, confesses to him a long childhood history of being sexually abused by a priest, who is now deceased. The abuse went on for several years, involving a number of children, and caused a scandal that had been reported in the news long ago. The parishioner has a bizarre plan to rectify the injustice that he suffered—he wants to kill a priest, not an abusive priest, but a good priest like Father James, and he makes a date to meet him on the beach in a week.

    Father James does not overreact, to say the least. He discusses the case with a superior, who tells him to report it to the police, but he is reluctant. He says he knows who the parishioner is, but he does not want to take impulsive action. During the week that transpires, which is marked day by day on the screen, Father James gives evidence of being deeply depressed, perhaps suicidal. In fact, the entire film is about death and suicide. The daughter visits him after a suicide attempt. Then Father James has to visit a prisoner who committed a grisly murder; the prisoner requests the death sentence even though there is no death sentence in Ireland. An elderly novelist who lives alone asks Father James to get him a gun, preferably a Walther PPK, so that when the time comes, he can kill himself rather than succumb to the frailties of dementia. Father James himself is suspiciously casual about the death threat he experienced in the confession box.

    During the week, the priest has arguments and one fist fight with other villagers. He drinks himself silly. He tells off a lot of people. A rich villager offers him a dubious financial scheme, and insanely ends up urinating on a classic masterpiece that he owns. The only point taken is that the millionaire is mentally ill. Father James goes to the police inspector to talk, but the police inspector is distracted by his young, gay lover with the thick New York City accent, who is so hyperactive that he clearly is suffering from mental problems as well. A young wife in the village is promiscuous and currently cheating on her husband with an African car mechanic. She doesn’t check in as being completely normal either.

    The most depressing part of the job is administering last rites, which Father James says is never easy, although with the aged, “it’s not any easier but it’s more understandable.” At the hospital, he is called in to give last rites to an accident victim. The Emerg doctor (Aidan Gillen) is smoking outside the building; he is jaded, callous, and militantly atheistic. He tells the priest, “I know the atheistic doctor is a cliché.” In short, there’s not one pollyanna to be found in the entire village. And during that troublesome week, the priest’s church is burned down by an arsonist, and someone viciously kills Bruno, presumably the same villager who wants to kill the priest on Sunday. In one last phone call to his daughter, Father James declares what he says is the hardest part of humanity—forgiveness.

    This film isn’t about faith, more like using faith to escape reality, and even then, faith is not very effective. Father James only becomes a priest to escape the pain of widowhood, and he continues to drink himself into oblivion. And he never officially reports the death threat delivered in the confession box, for apparently, it’s a sin for a priest to commit suicide, but it’s not a sin if someone volunteers their services and does the dirty work for him. In the end, there’s no redemption for the believer or the atheist, just a glimmer of hope for those who can forgive.
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  7. Sep 17, 2014
    0
    Full of failed metaphors and a "morale" that dates back before the Age of Enlightenment, this "Come Visit Ireland"-Advertisement is about asFull of failed metaphors and a "morale" that dates back before the Age of Enlightenment, this "Come Visit Ireland"-Advertisement is about as "funny" as "Schindler's List".
    Most of the characters are simply blunt caricatures of the same cynical archetype, while the message of the movie is a simple "without faith in the catholic church, all goes to hell". Yes, the lead actor does indeed perform amazingly well, but he cannot make up for the terribly poor story and the failed attempts of modern day parallels to a passing through Gethsemane.
    The gruesome and forcibly deliberate end has about the meaning and depth of the summed-up "diligence and wisdom" Kim Bauer in the second Season of "24".

    My only conclusion to the high ratings of other critics is, that they are an attempt to give some meaning and over-interpretation to what they witnessed - and to avoid facing the fact, that they have just suffered the irreversible theft of 90 Minutes of precious life time.
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