Category Archives: Reviews

All Things Considered: Annual Film Review

Brendan Gleeson stars in Calvary
Brendan Gleeson stars in Calvary

BBC Radio Wales Sunday 7th December

Unanimous praise for Calvary but disagreement over whether religion has ‘moved to the periphery of Irish life’

Fun being among the reviewers but I found myself at odds with them on this point.

Far from religion being on the side-lines, this film presents it as being so close to Irish hearts that its betrayal by clerical abuse of children results in a seething anger against clerics and the Catholic Church. Religion has failed but faith, in this film, is precious.

My favourite film, Bresson’s ‘Diary of a Country Priest’ is the model here. In both films a good priest is surrounded by embittered, suffering parishioners who taunt and confront him with the monstrosity and absurdity of suffering. There is plenty of jeopardy of the usual who-dunnit type but even more hangs on the risk that the priest will compromise his principles from sheer fellow-feeling.

A key role is that of the newly bereaved French wife whose clear-eyed acceptance of enormous loss proves a touchstone. Integrity, the coherence between what a person believes and what he or she does, is a major theme.

A great cast. Brendan Gleeson and his son, Domhnall are powerful in one of the many one-to-one encounters.

Why do we get angry at suffering as though it is something unexpected? That’s a question I feel this film put in front of me.

iPlayer Radio: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04snkt6