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After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.

Actors: David Wilmot , Domhnall Gleeson , Marie-Josée Croze , M. Emmet Walsh , Isaach De Bankolé , Dylan Moran , Aidan Gillen , Kelly Reilly , Chris O'Dowd , Brendan Gleeson
Directors: John Michael McDonagh
Country: IRELAND , UK
Release: 2014-04-11
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  • Steven Rea

    Calvary is also just jaw-droppingly beautiful. McDonagh and cinematographer Larry Smith capture the four-seasons-in-one-day miracle that is Ireland, with its jagged stonescapes, roiling surf, fairie towns, and bracing skies.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Mick LaSalle

    One of the smartest and most impassioned films about Christianity in recent memory, though to say that might give the wrong impression. In tone and strategy, the film is low-key and subtle; and the story can be appreciated both for its surface qualities and its deeper intentions.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Mark Olsen

    The film is then not so much a meditation but a reverie, a swirl of emotions and ideas, managing to be both calmly reflective and skittishly anxious at the same time. Calvary is a serious comedy, a funny drama, a ruminative film about life and a lively film about death.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • David Rooney

    Visually, intellectually and emotionally, McDonagh’s film is one to savor.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    Twice I have left a Calvary screening feeling dazed and moved.

    New York Post Full Review
  • 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.

    Total Film Full Review
  • 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.

    Empire Full Review
  • 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.

    Variety Full Review
  • 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.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Bob Mondello

    Calvary is bleak and corrosively funny in about equal measure, with the rugged grey/green landscape suiting the harshness of the village's attitudes about the Church, and repentance, and the worth of good works.

    NPR Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    McDonagh walks a hazardous tightrope from scene to scene, from amiable comedy to black-hearted farce to heartbreaking tragedy, often trying to strike all those notes within seconds. It doesn’t all work equally well, but the cumulative effect is powerful. Full Review
  • Amy Nicholson

    Gleeson is one of the finest actors we have, and in casting him as the lead, McDonagh stacks the deck so that regardless of our own religious reservations, we're forced to care about Father James as a man.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Glenn Kenny

    This is the kind of movie that galvanizes and discomfits while it’s on screen, and is terrific fodder for conversation long after its credits roll. Even if you are neither Catholic nor Irish, this Calvary will in no way be a useless sacrifice of your moviegoing time. Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    Calvary is also profoundly compelling for the light it shines on how public attitudes have changed toward the clergy in the wake of the abusive-priests scandal.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    Calvary is a compact and biting tale of a righteous man being tested by his faith, his peers and his predicament.

    McClatchy-Tribune News Service Full Review
  • Katherine Kilkenny

    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.

    indieWIRE Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    The movie belongs to Gleeson, commanding in every scene, even when he's sitting silently, listening to another sinner go on about what's wrong with everyone else.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    It's a film of modest means and great ambition, a darkly comic drama concerned with nothing less than the place of faith, and an embattled Church, in modern life.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • Tasha Robinson

    While it’s less playful and less giddily, enjoyably excessive than The Guard, it explores similar ground, as a good-hearted man largely abandoned by his community attempts to do the right thing as he sees it. But it brings in much more complicated matters of religion and morality, asking what it means to be a man of faith in an age of doubt.

    The Dissolve Full Review
  • 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.

    Time Out London Full Review
  • 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.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • Josh Kupecki

    With Calvary, John Michael McDonagh (who wrote and directed "The Guard" and is the brother of Martin “In Bruges” McDonagh) has crafted a darkly hilarious and deeply ruminative update on the passion play.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Joe Williams

    Gleeson is great as the troubled, conscientious priest, but until an abruptly shocking finale, his fatalism turns the ticking clock into a congested hourglass.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Connie Ogle

    Filmed around stunning County Sligo on Ireland’s west coast, Calvary is a thoughtful, atmospheric movie despite the awkward parade of suspects and the fact that everyone seems a little too conveniently hostile.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    Calvary is an unsettling concoction, abstract and brutal, morally serious and too ghastly in its flippancy to be simply comedy. When you stop gasping at the shocks and jokes, there’s a profundity here, in the struggle to find the balance between outrage and forgiveness.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    Gleeson carries the film with wonderful, natural authority. He's a little better than the movie itself, which is glib to a fault.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • A.A. Dowd

    Some of Calvary is uncomfortably bleak... But writer-director John Michael McDonagh—brother of the English playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges)—has an ear for wry humor, providing his characters with a steady supply of acerbic wit.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Rex Reed

    Downbeat, depressing and heavy as lead, Calvary is nevertheless an unusual film that never bores. Impeccable performances by Chris O’Dowd, Aiden Gillen, M. Emmett Walsh and Kelly Reilly are riveting. And Mr. Gleeson is a bear-like centerpiece of conflicts and contradictions who anchors the floating pieces of the Irish puzzle in faith and doctrine, while mercifully refusing to sermonize.

    New York Observer Full Review
  • Dana Stevens

    Calvary gives Gleeson ample opportunity to explore his talent for anchoring a movie, making it deeper and richer than the script and direction might otherwise allow.

    Slate Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    The limitations of Calvary are summed up by the insistent, dialectical chatter that almost mechanically pings and pongs between lightness and darkness, glibness and seriousness, insincerity and honesty, faithfulness and despair.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Gleeson is a wonderful actor and he keeps a lid on the blarney. He manages to convey a lot – fear, anger, compassion, rue – with only the slightest of squints and frowns. But he’s still the center of a cooked-up cavalcade of souls.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • 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. Full Review
  • Tom Russo

    Taking its title from the site where Christ was crucified, the controversy-courting film has a lot of Catholic church business (and doctrine) on its mind, and veers from poetically eloquent to jarringly blunt in hashing it all out.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Mike Scott

    Calvary is most assuredly not a comedy. It is a weighty, powerful drama -- albeit one with comic moments -- that dabbles in weighty, powerful themes.

    New Orleans Times-Picayune Full Review
  • 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.

    The Telegraph Full Review
  • 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.

    CineVue Full Review
  • Steve Persall

    Calvary becomes a lurid Agatha Christie yarn with something important to say about the church and Ireland that McDonagh can't fully articulate. Pulp keeps getting in the way.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    As pungent as McDonagh’s writing is, it may be his too-easy pessimism that makes Calvary engrossing and thought-provoking, but not great.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Jaime N. Christley

    One may feel dissatisfied by the 11th-hour turn toward lyrical fatalism, and mildly insulted by the presumptuous attitude it seems to choose as it sends us on our way.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Joe Neumaier

    Calvary is like a philosophical Agatha Christie mystery. That’s certainly not the worst thing to be. But it’s also the film’s undoing, because the reliance on specific genre cliches undermines the movie’s more serious intentions.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    Those shots are in contrast to those landscapes, which are craggy, primordial. It’s meant to be a haunting combination, and I have colleagues who’ve found it just that, who came out of the movie ashen, devastated. But I found it bludgeoning — I think it gives new meaning to the phrase hammer of God.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Anthony Lane

    The tension of Calvary is fitful at best, and much of the movie trips into silliness, but in Brendan Gleeson -- in his proud bearing and his lamenting gaze -- we see the plight of the lonely believer in a world beyond belief. [4 Aug.2014, p.74]

    The New Yorker Full Review
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