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Repertory Series: Keaton-esque • SEVEN CHANCES • Tuesday 12/25 at 5:45

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Sat, Apr 26, 2014

Premieres ArchiveNarrative FeaturesSpecial Events ArchiveIndependent Film Festival Boston 2014

Calvary

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New England Premiere

Director: John Michael McDonagh

You’ve seen the droll, bearish Brendan Gleeson stealing scenes in dozens of movies, but never has he been given a role quite like CALVARY. The portly Irishman delivers a towering performance as a doomed village priest in County Sligo. We begin in the dark of the confessional, as a familiar voice recounts being molested by a clergyman at the age of seven. “There’s no point in killing a bad priest,” the confessor continues. “I’m going to kill you because you’re innocent.”

Given seven days to put his affairs in order, Gleeson’s Father James selflessly tends to his flock, a rag-tag, ramshackle community of arsonists and addicts, misfits and malcontents. Writer-director John Michael McDonagh last collaborated with Gleeson on 2011’s THE GUARD, and the two films have a similarly caustic, gallows humor in their studies of prickly men devoted to duty. (McDonagh’s kid brother Martin helmed IN BRUGES, so the siblings seem to share a penchant for profane zingers. And for Brendan Gleeson.)

The parishioners include Chris O’Dowd as a cuckolded butcher, Aidan Gillen (also starring in our Opening Night film, BENEATH THE HARVEST SKY) as a coke-head doctor, Jim Jarmusch’s go-to-guy Isaach De Bankole, and even the great M. Emmet Walsh. The succession of bitterly funny dialogue sequences gradually blossom into our cleric’s own Stations of the Cross, as he trudges through the week to his own personal Golgotha. Deftly weaving serious spiritual questions in with the rude comedy, McDonagh turns Father James’ dysfunctional Sligo village into a microcosm for our fallen world.

—Vincent Archer

Screening Supported by The Irish Film Festival, Boston

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