In a dim confession chamber in a small church on an eerily peaceful coast in Ireland, a man confesses to the priest that he is going to kill him, Sunday week. Following the priest’s journey through his faith as his final day draws near, John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary is a disturbing, beautiful and sometimes funny film like no other. The aesthetic of the wide open spaces and perfect symmetry is chilling; it gives a sense of isolation and insignificance in a way few films are capable of. As my sister and I were discussing the film afterwards, she said that it’s not like a whodunnit type film – the point of it isn’t to try and solve the mystery of who the anonymous man behind the murder threat could be – it’s about the priest coming to terms with his faith and accepting his fate. Some lines still ring true in my head days after seeing the film, lines like ‘for most people, faith is a fear of dying’. Other lines like ‘I think she’s bipolar, or lactose intolerant, one of the two’ are still stuck in my head, for the somewhat dry and frequently dark humour throughout the film manage to flow in harmony with the tone and also serve as a bit of a breather from the mildly disturbing atmosphere. Two signs of a good film are that they make you feel something intensely, and that you are still thinking about it days, weeks after you’ve seen it. I laughed and cried in Calvary, and almost a week later I am still thinking about it.
Words and Illustration by Beth