Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
“..I first tasted seamen when I was seven years old”
Yes. This movie was going to be a rather different..
Brendan Gleeson – Father James Lavelle
Kelly Reilly – Fiona Lavelle
Killian Scott – Milo
Aiden Gillen – Dr. Harte
Dylan Moran – Michael Fitzgerald
Domhnall Gleeson – Freddie Joyce
Chris O’Dowd – Jack Brennan
Well. That was a load of tosh.
When I saw the words ‘blackly comic’ announced on the poster for this movie, I was really looking forward to it.
I love dark humour – dry or sarcastic black comedy really does it for me.
However – During Calvary the classic ‘Switching Of The Cheeks’ took place many times, and I found myself starting to get fidgety.
I was bored.
..but there had to be some good elements, no?
What did the movie do right?
Read on to find out…
I can’t fault the script. Honest and witty, it is written very well and although filthy at times, remains observational.
Calvary had the audience laughing out loud – but only a few times. It is one of those movies which plays out as serious (silent audience) then will have some people LOL’ing in a sort of “yes, how very true that is” reaction. I think what made it funny in places was its relateable dialogue and scenarios; situations people in real life can relate to. Even I sat there at one point thinking, “that’s probably how I’d react too”.
The movie continues with Father Lavelle ‘popping in’ on his fellow neighbours (it has to be the smallest community in the world) to see how they are doing, yet is continuously shocked and dumbfounded by what the people are getting up to. That is more or less your story; a priest doing the rounds of neighbour-checking, but getting more than an “amen Father”.
The cast are a varied bunch. Almost a Comedia dell’arte style presentation, each person is defined by his or her characteristics and background.
The wife-beating butcher, the exiled American author, the horny police officer who keeps a rent-boy upstairs, a distrusting doctor, the village slut, a simpleton, alcoholic entrepreneur.. its not exactly Happy Families, but the variety of characteristics are similar. The array of personalities are what shook the movie up a bit – because if they weren’t part of it, the whole thing would have been bloody awful. The cast remain steadfast and effective, helping the movie to move along at even pace.
The scenery was bloody beautiful.
Vast beachfronts and towering green cliffs are just a taster. During Father Lavelle’s visits to neighbours, he wanders onto various plains; an example is when he goes to confront the village slut (who happens to have been used as a punchbag by her current lover). She stands in front of her billowing washing line, clutching a laundry basket – the background consisting of hearty mountains / cliffs and churning sea. And having the gusty wind added a slight spark to the atmosphere.
The stoney village saw rustic old cottages, a pub and hospital being used. Bordering on breathtaking, the locations used included County Sligo, Ardgillan Castle Balbriggan Dublin and Rush, Dublin.
Selling itself as a ‘black comedy’ is like advertising Blue Jasmine as ‘heartbreaking’ – of course it has its moments of sarcasm and sinister wit, but it didn’t quite nail the comedy aspect. It turned out to be more serious than anything. Black comedy was displayed sporadically throughout, but it didn’t appear to be a consistent undercurrent.
Calvary is nowhere near a blockbuster smash. It is not intriguing nor captivating, and has no major elements which make it stand out.
The cast ensemble and array of characters are good – and the scenery plush – but its main feature has to be its honest and forthright script. The dialogue is the best part.
I would liken it to TV shows such as Midsomer Murders, fit for a dull afternoon’s watch of daytime TV – just as long as they remove all filth and swearing.
I’m pretty sure a British housewife would dislike hearing about felching as she’s doing the washing up.
Personally, I couldn’t sit through it again.