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With his second film, director John Michael McDonagh has quite a task in trying to create something that was half as memorable as his first: 2011’s howlingly funny comedy The Guard. And it probably didn’t help that his brother, Martin, followed up In Bruges with last year’s excellent ensemble crime comedy, Seven Psychopaths. Judging from the above trailer, though, McDonagh is headed in a more introspective direction with the dark comedy Calvary, and I can’t wait to be a part of its flock.
For Calvary, Brendan Gleeson reteams with the director to play Father James Lavelle, a priest with nothing but inspiration and hope to pass to his overly troubled parishioners without appearing sanctimonious. Trouble comes to him in the oddest of ways when someone walks into the other side of the confession window and threatens to murder him for being too kind to people, giving him a week to get his affairs in line. But in order to try and get his life spared, Father Lavelle must enter the lives of his troubled churchgoers to discover their moral centers in trying to figure out the identity of his soon-to-be murderer.
Gleeson could win over audiences in a film all on his own, but he’s got a stellar cast of mostly Irish actors whose characters make the priest’s life all the more complicated. Chris O’Dowd (Thor: The Dark World) plays an oafish butcher, while Aidan Gillen (The Wire) plays a much more intense hospital worker. The middle ground is filled out by characters played by Dylan Moran (Black Books), Domnhall Gleeson (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), David Wilmot (Ripper Street), Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes), Marie-Josée Croze (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and Isaach De Bankolé (24).
I’m intrigued by the way Calvary seems to be stretching Lavelle’s inherent goodness to its breaking point as he becomes more worried about his safety. That said, I really wish the trailer was left with some time to breathe, instead of overdoing it on the dialogue from beginning to end. That said, it all sounds like well-written dialogue, from the script written by McDonagh himself, and I have no doubts this cast will give his words their just glory.
While Calvary will be premiering at next year’s Sundance Film Festival, it still doesn’t have a U.S. distributor. Our Irish audience will be able to see it on April 11, 2014. In the meantime, catch up with The Guard if you haven’t yet. This trailer should be a good stepping stone.