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

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 60 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • 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. Expand
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: 15 out of 20
  2. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. Aug 25, 2014
    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
  2. Nov 9, 2014
    Absolutely phenomenal. This film had me speechless. Brendan Gleeson and Chris O'Dowd are both on their game, and the directorial style is very clean and punctuated. What had me the most, however, was the powerful screenplay. It argues for and against the many complex arguments that encircle the Catholic church without being too safe or too proselytizing, making profound statements on society, religion, and life as a whole – and sneaking in further commentary on art, wealth, medicine, relationships, and everything else that concerns the human experience. A heart stirring score by Patrick Cassidy wraps this gem of a film with a bow on top. A must see for everyone. Expand
  3. 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
  4. Aug 11, 2014
    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.
  5. Aug 3, 2014
    "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 1, 2014
    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.
  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 20 User Reviews