Director: John Michael McDonagh, Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Dylan Moran

Cast: John Michael McDonagh, Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Dylan Moran

His life threatened by an anonymous member of his parish during confession, virtuous Father James (Brendan Gleeson) remains steadfast in his commitment to his congregation while attempting to comfort his delicate-minded daughter (Kelly Reilly). Meanwhile, as the day of his scheduled execution draws near,


His life threatened by an anonymous member of his parish during confession, virtuous Father James (Brendan Gleeson) remains steadfast in his commitment to his congregation while attempting to comfort his delicate-minded daughter (Kelly Reilly). Meanwhile, as the day of his scheduled execution draws near, Father James quietly struggles to summon the courage to face his ultimate fate. Chris O'Dowd, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, M. Emmet Walsh, and Domhnall Gleeson co-star.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
What does it mean to be a messenger of God in a godless society, and what role does faith play in our lives outside of offering comfort over our fears of mortality? These are just a few of the difficult questions writer/director John Michael McDonagh explores in Calvary, a bleak yet thoroughly engrossing drama featuring a magnificent performance by Brendan Gleeson. Father James (Gleeson) is a good priest. He's kind, thoughtful, and genuinely concerned about the well-being of the people in his community. And that's exactly why the tormented soul on the other end of the confessional booth threatens to kill him in just one week's time. Shaken to the core, the benevolent clergyman nevertheless ignores his superior's thinly veiled suggestion to report the anonymous threat, and instead selflessly carries on serving the community that seems to despise his very presence. Meanwhile, as Father James' suicidal daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly) retreats to the countryside following a bad breakup, he provides emotional support to her and several locals: philandering wife Veronica (Orla O'Rourke), her good-natured husband Jack (Chris O'Dowd), her gruff lover Simon (Isaach De Bankolé), and an exiled American writer (M. Emmet Walsh) who has taken up residence in the close-knit community also inhabited by atheistic Dr. Frank Harte (Aidan Gillen) and social misfit Milo (Killian Scott). But when the church burns to the ground in the middle of the week, it quickly becomes apparent that the threat against Father James is real, and as he and Father Leary (David Wilmot) ponder the rebuilding of their parish, lonely millionaire Michael Fitzgerald (Dylan Moran) seeks redemption through a large donation. Later, at the request of the aging writer, Father James acquires a gun from kinky police inspector Stanton (Gary Lydon). Will he use the firearm to defend his life, or honor the Fifth Commandment and allow his faith to dictate his ultimate fate? Its title taken from the name of the site where Christ was crucified, Calvary is an uncompromising portrait of a pious man in an increasingly secular society. In Ireland (as in the U.S.), religion has always played a key role in rural society, and by setting his film in a quiet countryside community, McDonagh explores the contemporary backlash against the Catholic Church on an intimate scale that slyly subverts the historical connection between religion and rural life. By employing the distinctive brand of dark humor he handled so well in The Guard, McDonagh also manages to disarm us early on, playing the sins of the locals for gentle laughs as their disdain for Father James gradually morphs into something truly sinister. Like the moral corrosion that has slowly infected this community, this transition occurs with a subtlety that allows it to slip under our skin before we can recognize it. It's a genuinely brilliant piece of work that's made even better by a truly gifted ensemble cast. At the forefront, of course, is Gleeson. At once worldly, warm, and endearingly good-humored, his Father James is the ideal Catholic priest -- a holy man who readily admits to being judgmental, but whose deep compassion colors his every action. And although we gather, through his conversations with his daughter and Mr. Fitzgerald, that he is no saint, his unguarded honesty and optimism prevent us from seeing him as a mere religious hypocrite. He's the eye at the center of a raging spiritual storm, and the characters around him are the storm clouds that will test his resolution. Though each brings his or her distinctive rumble of thunder, it's ultimately O'Rourke as slinky seductress Veronica and Gillen as the taunting Dr. Harte whose contempt for the clergyman shines like a sharpened dagger. Delivering what is arguably Calvary's most sinister performance, Gillen will likely leave viewers as rattled as Father James as he delivers a profoundly disturbing and tragic story with a sadistic sneer. Likewise, in a brief yet powerful cameo opposite his real-life father, Domhnall Gleeson tests the resolve of the besieged priest in the role of an incarcerated serial killer hedging eternity on God's compassion. And as Fiona, the talented Kelly Reilly offers intimate insight into her dad's flaws and motivations in perhaps the film's most touching and intimate scene. Decidedly less conventional than McDonagh and Gleeson's previous collaborative effort The Guard (and that's saying something for a movie that opened with a carful of dead teens and a cop dropping acid), Calvary is also a more mature and challenging work that will no doubt be the topic of intense debate among those who welcome the opportunity to explore the role that faith and organized religion play in our lives. Make no mistake, however: There are no easy answers to be found here, only spiritual and philosophical questions that McDonagh boldly asks us to ponder. If you're up to that challenge, Calvary is a deeply moving experience.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
[Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Promotional featurettes: ; The role of a good priest; A father & his daughter; A matter of faith; Still gallery; Calvary: behind the scenes

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Brendan Gleeson Father James
Chris O'Dowd Jack Brennan
Dylan Moran Michael Fitzgerald
M. Emmet Walsh Gerald Ryan
Kelly Reilly Fiona Lavelle
Domhnall Gleeson Freddie Joyce
Aidan Gillen Dr. Frank Harte
Pat Shortt Brendan Lynch
David Wilmot Fr. Timothy Leary
Marie-Josée Croze Teresa
Gary Lydon Inspector Gerry Stanton
Isaach de Bankolé Simon Asamoah
Killian Scott Milo Herlihy
Orla O'Rourke Veronica Brennan
Owen Sharpe Leo McARthur
David McSavage Bishop Montgomery

Technical Credits
John Michael McDonagh Director,Screenwriter
Peter Agnew Asst. Director
Patrick Cassidy Score Composer
Chris Clark Producer
Fiona Daly Art Director
Elizabeth Eves Co-producer
Aaron Farrell Co-producer
James Flynn Producer
Ronan Flynn Executive Producer
Liz Gallacher Musical Direction/Supervision
Mark Geraghty Production Designer
Chris Gill Editor
Jina Jay Casting
Flora Fernandez Marengo Producer
Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh Costumes/Costume Designer
Larry Smith Cinematographer
Robert Walak Executive Producer


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