Over two thousand years ago Jesus Christ was crucified on Mount Calvary/Golgotha; more than two billion people believe he is God. He died between two thieves; crucifixion was the traditional means of capital punishment at the time.
Brendan Glesson as “Father James” is miraculous; the map of mankind’s woes is etched on his weary, pained countenance; he has seen and heard every despicable, salacious act perpetrated by humans, created in “God’s image”.
“Calvary” commences with Father James in the confessional, waiting to hear an expected rendition of wrongs committed by a sorrowful penitent; instead he listens to a wounded man, abused in his youth by a priest; the transgressor long deceased, he informs Father James that he, being a good priest, will be killed in one week’s time; justification for the horrific lifelong, invisible scars, haunting his every breath.
The film is segmented into seven sections; every male soul in this small, isolated Irish village is a viable executioner; characterization is vacuously defined: atheists, adulators; disillusioned doctor; wealthy, iconoclastic landowner; “Fiona” (sensitively, vulnerably portrayed by Kelly Reilly), James’s troubled daughter adds intensity, degrees of understanding a man, widowed, who chose the priesthood to fulfill his destiny.
Director/writer John Michael McDonagh fearlessly tackles a contemporary issue that has plagued, tarnished the Catholic Church in recent decades; the vastness of the problem resonates silently through the film; magnificent, unforgiving landscape, plummeted relentlessly by the Atlantic ocean is a metaphor for the depth and yet unresolved solution to this insidious iniquity.
James, was the apostle of peace; companion to Jesus, witnessing his torment in the Garden of Gethsemane, precursor of prophetic Calvary. As the week progresses, Father James, struggles with immortality, personal transgressions; like his namesake, endeavors to make sense of the senseless; painfully profound, the journey is a brilliant, mesmerizing portrait of self-revelation, forgiveness and acceptance. Brendan Glesson imbues the role with overwhelming nobility and saintliness.