Fox Searchlight Pictures
Rated R for profanity, sexual references, drug use and brief violence
Vengeful Parishioner Threatens Priest In Irish Morality Play
While hearing confessions in church one day, Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) gets the shock of his life. First, a disturbed man recounts in lurid detail how, as a child, he’d been raped by a priest every other day for five years. Then, the anonymous confessor announces that since the pedophile who ruined his life is already deceased, he’s decided to even the score by murdering Father James, and in exactly one week.
The demented parishioner couldn’t care less that his intended victim is totally innocent and wasn’t even a priest when the transgressions transpired. In fact, Father James was married back then and only entered the priesthood relatively recently in the wake of his wife’s untimely death.
But there’s to be no reasoning with this revenge-minded lunatic leveling the death threat through the opaque screen. He unceremoniously exits the confessional booth without asking for absolution, abruptly leaving Father James in a quandary about what to do next.
The concerned priest consults his immediate superior, Bishop Montgomery (David McSavage), who suggests the matter be reported to the police. However, despite having a hunch about the identity of the unhinged maniac, Father James merely resumes ministering to the needs of his tiny congregation as if nothing happened, ostensibly at peace with the prospect of being martyred for the sins of another.
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of suspects among the denizens of the deceptively-serene village, nestled along the windswept Irish seacoast. There’s an unscrupulous banker (Dylan Moran) unsatisfied by wealth beyond his wildest dreams, a cuckolded butcher (Chris O’Dowd) with a bipolar spouse (Orla O’Rourke) who’s cheating on him, and her sadistic African lover (Isaach De Bankolé) who freely admits to beating her for kicks.
Other bizarre characters include a morally-compromised physician (Aidan Gillen) flagrantly violating the Hippocratic oath, a closet cannibal (Domnhall Gleeson) claiming that human flesh tastes a lot like pheasant, and a macho cop (Gary Lydon) who secretly gets his rocks off with the help of a flamboyant male prostitute (Owen Sharpe). And rounding out the list of possible perps are a sexually-frustrated teen (Killian Scott) considering enlisting in the Army, and a suicidal American writer (M. Emmet Walsh).
Yet, if anybody’s truly entitled to have a beef with Father James, it would be his daughter, Fiona (Kelly Reilly). She felt like she lost both of her parents when he entered the seminary at a time she needed him more than ever.
Directed by John Michael McDonagh (The Guard), Calvary is a modern morality play which walks a fine line back and forth between playful whodunit and sobering parable. Leave it to a veteran thespian like Brendan Gleeson to serve as the glue that holds the production together.
He delivers another nonpareil performance, here, as an introspective soul on a spiritual path able to maintain his sanity while facing his mortality in a godforsaken environ where so many in his flock have clearly lost their minds.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 100 minutes
The Almost Man (Mir Eller Mindre Mann)
Big World Pictures
Unplanned Pregnancy Pressures Sophomoric Slacker To Mature In Scandinavian Social Satire
Henrik Sandvik (Henrik Rafaelsen) is a slacker who’s never had to grow up. The 35-year-old underachiever is still doted on by a helicopter mom (Anne Ma Usterud) willing to wait on him hand-and-foot.
His equally-immature BFFs are the same guys he’s hung around since high school. Their boorish behavior ranges from snapping towels on each other in locker room showers, to getting wasted at parties where they proceed to pee off the balcony, flick their boogers, and engage in fistfights and homoerotic horseplay.
None of the above sits well with Henrik’s girlfriend, Tone (Janne Heltberg Haarseth), given how she recently learned that she’s expecting a baby. Her hope is that her beau will finally grow up, now that he’s on the brink of becoming a father. But that might prove easier said than done, considering that his favorite book is Peter Pan.
The impending arrival of the couple’s bundle of joy lurks over the horizon in The Almost Man, a sublime social satire written and directed by Martin Lund. Unfolding against the backdrop of a variety of visually-captivating Norwegian settings, the film focuses mostly on Tone’s escalating frustrations with Henrik, even after he grudgingly takes a confining corporate job.
It’s not enough that he’s bringing home the bacon, when he blames a temptress he’s caught kissing for having seduced him. He even has the temerity to suggest that Tone have an abortion. But that ain’t happening.
And with only a few months to make over a philanderer who freely admits that “I’m not sure how to behave,” the mad mommy-to-be has her work cut out for her. Will Tone run out of patience before reluctant Henrik is ready to accept his responsibilities?
A droll dramedy examining the male metamorphosis from bachelor to family man.
Very Good (3 stars)
In Norwegian with subtitles
Running time: 77 minutes
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