SYNOPSIS: Brendan Gleeson delivers “a truly sensational performance” (Total Film) in this darkly comic tale of murder and morality from acclaimed writer-director John Michael McDonagh (The Guard). Father James (Gleeson) is a good priest who feels sinister forces closing in after being threatened by a mysterious parishioner. As he continues to comfort the troubled members of his community, including his own fragile daughter (Kelly Reilly), Father James begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary


Depending on individual taste and patience for religiously theme dramas, your mileage may vary greatly.

According to the Gospel, Calvary refers to the site where Jesus was crucified. In this movie, Irish actor Brendan Gleeson plays Father James, a small-town priest who encounter a confessor who divulge plans to kill him on the following Sunday after admitting he was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest when he was young boy. Father James is innocent which of course is the answer. The question however remains who is out to kill the Father. In other words come Sunday, will Father James end up at the calvary so to speak?

Director and writer John Michael McDonagh crafted a multi-layered drama that speaks anything from humanities to religions to diabolical humor. It’s not easy to sit through Calvary since the movie never proceeds as a clear-cut mystery thriller despite the absorbing opening. McDonagh instead brought out the good natured, sincere character of Father James as he is seen showering his care and help for the various people in this little village.  

From the butcher (Chris O’Dowd) whose wife is having an affair with the black mechanic to the lonely millionaire (Dylan Moran) to the Inspector who has a thing for male gigolo to an atheist doctor (Aidan Gillen) to a socially awkward young man, Father James displays his fullest professionalism, though his good intentions are not always reciprocated. The killer might be hiding behind this group of hostile, eccentric characters but that’s not the whole point of McDonagh’s story.

No one is perfect it seems and Father James has a tragic, inglorious past before he entered priesthood. His wife passed away and left behind a daughter whom he seldom gets in touch with. Now his daughter, Fiona (Kelly Reilly) who has been living in London all this while returned to visit Father James after a failed suicide attempt adding on top of the woes the Father is facing.

Apparently, this is a movie that is filled with complex issues and emotions. It also touches on the crumbling faith in everyone’s lives. Calvary never preaches direct in the face and it works tremendously well by showcasing the frail morality of mankind in a subtle manner. Not to mention, Gleeson’s Oscar-worthy performance that got us so immersed in the tale. 


A Matter of Faith takes a look at the various issues faced by Father James.

The Role of a Good Priest features interviews with Brendan Gleeson.

A Father and His Daughter delves into the relationship between Gleeson and Reilly’s characters.   

Lastly, a Gallery round up the extras. 


The gorgeous Irish setting looks beautiful on DVD, images stunning and detailed. For a talky movie, the Dolby Digital 5.1 is more than sufficient in delivering an immersive listening experience. 



Review by Linus Tee



Genre: Drama
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Domhnall Gleeson, Isaach De Bankolé, M. Emmet Walsh, David Wilmot, Killian Scott, Gary Lydon, Orla O'Rourke
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Rating: NC-16 (Some Mature Content) 
Year Made: 2014


- Promotional Featurettes
- Gallery


Languages: English/Spanish/Portuguese
Subtitles: English/Cantonese/Malay/Indonesian/
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time:  1 hr 41 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: HVN Entertainment Singapore