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Calvary

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭   Read critic reviews

Ireland, United Kingdom

2014

Rated R • 1h42

John Michael McDonagh

Director

Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen

Stars

Drama

Genre

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A good-natured preist is threatened during a confession by an anonymous parishioner seeking revenge. While helping his cynical, spiteful community as usual, he must battle the dark forces closing in around him.

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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

83

IndieWire by

Even as it delivers an emotional wallop, not every moment of "Calvary" goes down smoothly, as comedic scenes transition somewhat abruptly to tragic moments and the final reveal never reaches the heights of its Hitchockian inspirations.
100

Total Film by Andrew Lowry

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.
80

Time Out London by Cath Clarke

[A] wickedly funny black comedy, all fatalism and gallows humour, with both a beating heart and an inquiring mind lingering beneath its tough-guy bluster.
65

Film.com by Eric D. Snider

The film has much more talking than acting, so McDonagh is wise to give it all the zest he can muster... But McDonagh, for all his agility as a writer, stumbles in fleshing out the story.
100

Variety by Justin Chang

Grounded by a performance of monumental soul from Gleeson as a tough-minded Irish priest marked for death by one of his parishioners, the film offers a mordantly funny survey of small-town iniquity that morphs, almost imperceptibly, into a deeply felt lament for a fallen world.
100

Empire by Kim Newman

On the strength of only two films, McDonagh and Gleeson are a director/star team on a par with Ford/Wayne, Fellini/Mastroianni or Scorsese/De Niro. Calvary is gripping, moving, funny and troubling, down to an uncompromising yet uncynical finish.
60

CineVue by Patrick Gamble

By interchanging bawdy gaiety and a ponderous attitude to emphasise the film's spiritual message, Calvary feels extremely disjointed, struggling to balance its dualistic tone on top of its oversized ensemble cast.
91

The Playlist by Rodrigo Perez

Calvary may not be for all audiences, with its pitch-black heart and sober existentialism not exactly commercial stuff, but its unwavering commitment to the intelligent thorniness of its themes, and the masterful control McDonagh exerts over the shifts in tone are worth cherishing, bringing it soaring close to something divine.
60

The Telegraph by Tim Robey

For all the film’s merits, the suspicion persists that McDonagh’s a little too pleased with his own fulminating thesis. Time and again the writing is showing off for effect, delivering a fire-and-brimstone sermon with cocky swagger.
80

The Guardian by Xan Brooks

Calvary boasts a sharp sense of place and a deep love of language. It's puckish and playful, mercurial and clever, rattling with gallows laughter as it paints a portrait of an Irish community that is at once intimate and alienated.

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