MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, Isaach De Bankolé, M. Emmet Walsh, Marie-Josée Croze, Domhnall Gleeson, David Wilmot, Pat Shortt, Gary Lydon, Killian Scott, Orla O'Rourke, Owen Sharpe, David McSavage. Written & directed by John Michael McDonagh.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Calvary’s Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is a good priest who is faced with sinister and troubling circumstances brought about by a mysterious member of his parish. Although he continues to comfort his own fragile daughter (Kelly Reilly) and reach out to help members of his church with their various scurrilous moral - and often comic - problems, he feels sinister and troubling forces closing in, and begins to wonder if he will have the courage to face his own personal Calvary.

PREVIEW REVIEW: An interesting premise and a solid performance by Brendan Gleeson help us endure a downer of a movie if ever there was one. I’ve seen more smiles on Days of Our Lives. Everybody has problems in this film, with lots of anger or indifference to God, church and this reportedly good man (he’s as dour as the rest).

While the theme has to do with forgiveness, the film is bleak. If you can put up with the brutal language and violence, there is an example of forgiveness at film’s end that points to a spiritual experience. But after reading the content, you may wish to view the suggested DVD alternatives, where you can get more pronounced examples without the brutalizing content.

DVD Alternatives: Tender Mercies. Robert Duvall as a country singer on the skids who turns his life around, with the help of a religious widow and her son. The small role of a country minister is depicted with a genuineness seldom seen in the movies. PG (A few profanities are heard from the male lead in an opening scene, but a Christian woman has an effect on his life and it is revealed that he becomes a Christian. He stops drinking and swearing and becomes a more contemplative and compassionate person).

A Man Called Peter. From 1955 - A sensitive performance by Richard Todd highlights this account of Peter Marshall, a Scotsman who became the U.S. Senate chaplain. Tinged with a bit of schmaltzy Hollywood biography, the film comes alive with the recitation of actual sermons given by this devout man of God. You will be inspired by these sermons and be astonished at how well they relate to the times in which we live.

Faith Like Potatoes. Based on the novel Faith Like Potatoes, this inspiring film tells the story of Angus Buchan, a South African farmer who suffers a series of seemingly insurmountable losses. But through an unlikely friendship with his Zulu farmhand and God making Himself known through miraculous events, Angus discovers that the key to healing and learning to accept others lies in his unwavering belief in Jesus Christ. The unknown cast does a credible job, but what really moved me was the brave yet sensitive presentation of spiritual beliefs. The way the Holy Spirit affects the life of the main character surely will send a message to even scoffers that there must be something other than the mental and physical aspects of life they embrace.

Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Ingrid Bergman stars in this fact-based story of a missionary who leads a group of children on a perilous journey in pre-WW2 China. The film contains one of the most moving conversions this reviewer has seen in the movies, as we witness change in a man's life due to this courageous woman's example. It reminds the Christian viewer that our lifestyle does greatly affect others.

Stars in My Crown. One of my favorite films, with Joel McCrea as an 1800s minister dealing with the problems of his church members. A gentle, episodic tale for the whole family, it is a fine example of how our daily walk can eventually affect the lives of others.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Fox Searchlight Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: A few crude sexual remarks

Obscene Language: Around 20 uses of the f-word, including some from the priest when he loses his temper; a few other obscenities sprinkled throughout.

Profanity: I caught three misuses of Christ’ name.

Violence: A description of sexual abuse to a child is graphic in its wording; the priest is beaten after he gets drunk and battles customers in a bar; a man is shot in the head, the slo-mo shot is graphic and gory; a man threatens to kill the priest; a dog is found dead, its throat slit.

Sex: Brief sexual conversations

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Drinking throughout; talk of drug use.

Other: None

Running Time: 102 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature

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