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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 53 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 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
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Aug 8, 2014
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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: 13 out of 17
  2. Negative: 2 out of 17
  1. Aug 4, 2014
    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. Expand
  2. Sep 21, 2014
    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 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. Aug 5, 2014
    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. Expand
  4. Sep 3, 2014
    In the opening scene, a man confesses to a priest that he will kill him next Sunday. As the priest is getting his matters together in one week, the audience gets to know more about him, his mass, and his town.

    In Calvary, all characters are troubled. The priest have had his midlife crisis which led him choose the path priesthood. His daughter is suicidal, depressed, and feels abandoned by his parents. The sack's marriage is in a free fall. The young beauty in the town is becoming uncontrollably promiscuous, the banker is devoid of emotions for his family and friends, the young boy has violent thoughts.

    The only untroubled character is the young widow even though she has faced a calamity recently. She knows how to cope, move on, and live. Her faith is genuine and authentic, even more so than the priest. Unlike the priest, she did not turn to God for help after she had a crisis. She believes genuinely and wholeheartedly, which makes her unbreakable and unshakable.

    Everything in this movie is set up correctly, introduced at a proper time, and adds to the movie in a later time. His dog, his daughter, the local bar, the church, etc. Each one unveils a crucial point about one of the characters and keeps the audience engaged.

    Calvary is not just a movie about a priest who may die in a week. It is more a movie about the unfairness of life and randomness of death. All the touched themes in Calvary make it a movie worth watching.
  5. Sep 3, 2014
    Painfully slow but still riveting dialogue and a complex plot. Acting was good, direction unusual. The story line was difficult to understand but that is my fault, not the writer. I enjoyed the film but not sure what I watched. Expand
  6. Sep 7, 2014
    i think this movie had alot of potential to be spectacular. it seemed more like a tv movie to me, some scenes and characters felt out of place and disconnected. the music and cinematography did not draw me in. Expand
  7. Sep 17, 2014
    Full 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.

See all 17 User Reviews