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  • Benjamin Maio Mackay

Calvary - 4.5 Stars

Brendon Gleeson stars in this thought-provoking film about life and death.

The first thing I should say is this is not a black comedy. There is nothing funny at all in this movie, but it is very poignant. 


This is John Michael McDonagh’s second film as writer/director and he certainly knows how to produce an intriguing film. The very first line of the film was intense and the audience are instantly captivated. McDonagh successfully created a town full of believable, well rounded characters that also each had their own faults. By creating such realistic characters McDonagh demonstrates his strong ability to write character drama.


The cast is superb with many well-known Irish actors and comedians playing roles well out of their comfort zones. Brendon Gleeson plays Father James Lavelle who is put in a difficult scenario from the outset of the film and is faced with increasing torment and disaster as the film progresses. Gleeson’s performance is faultless; he is able to show intricately the journey of his character over a single week as he goes from his every day normal life to watching everything crumble around him.

There were also many other actors who gave outstanding performances including Chris O’Dowd, Dylan Moran, David Wilmot and Kelly Reilly.


It is shot beautifully on location in Ireland and the camera work is smooth and consistent, and it’s edited together well with seamless scene transitions.


While all the elements of this movie are superb (the acting, writing, directing, cinematography) I left the film wondering what the purpose of it was. After careful contemplation I realised it was, like any good artwork designed to raise questions. This film makes you question life, death, religion and the role of the church. I think this will be the first of many new films to question the role of the church, but the clever way in which this film examines and questions religion is superb.


This is an impressive, thought-provoking film with sublime acting and an incredible script.


4.5 Stars

Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay

Movie screening courtesy of Palace Nova Cinemas

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