Out Now On-Demand

Killing a priest on Sunday, that'll be a good one.

Black comedy starring Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) as a good-natured Irish Catholic priest who, while trying to believe the best of his parishioners, is continually shocked by the spiteful and confrontational inhabitants of his small country town. Dark thoughts begin to take over when his life is threatened during confession. Co-stars fellow Irish thespians Chris O'Dowd, Dylan Moran and Kelly Reilly. From the director of The Guard, which also starred Gleeson.


Comedy, Drama


Rating: R13 Violence, offensive language and content that may disturb

Ireland, UK

Named after the site where Jesus was crucified – though set in rural Ireland – John Michael McDonagh's follow-up to The Guard manages to provoke both thought and laughter, while saying something profound about the human soul.

Its first – show-stopping – scene finds worldly wise Father James (Brendan Gleeson) in the confession booth. “I first tasted semen when I was seven years old,” begins an unseen penitent, before detailing his abuse by a priest. “Certainly a startling opening line,” offers Father James. Though he admits James himself is innocent, the anonymous abusee promises to kill him in an act of abstract, symbolic vengeance against the church, giving him time to “get his house in order” first. “Sunday week, let's say,” he decides, brightly.

Steeped in this mixture of death and daftness, the film counts down to his inevitable reckoning, while we work out which of the eccentric parishioners (including familiar faces Chris O'Dowd, Dylan Moran and Aiden Gillen) is going to do the deed, like a clerical Cluedo. James knows, but instead of trying to escape, he tends to his flock's many spiritual woes (adultery, drugs, detachment) with grace and good humour, a decent man failing valiantly. “Take a pew,” he tells one wryly. “Literally.”

As the film builds and bumbles towards its devastating climax, McDonagh interposes gorgeous helicopter shots of the sea and sky, as if God were watching passively as these preordained events play out. When it's over, you'll find a contemplative hush has descended on the audience: a cinema turned, briefly, into a church.

Total Film (UK)


Anchored by a truly sensational performance from Gleeson, this unexpected blend of passion play, detective story, rural comedy and serious inquiry into faith is destined for classic status.

Empire (UK)


Calvary is gripping, moving, funny and troubling, down to an uncompromising yet uncynical finish.

Variety (USA)


The film offers a mordantly funny survey of small-town iniquity that morphs, almost imperceptibly, into a deeply felt lament for a fallen world.

Time Out London


[A] wickedly funny black comedy, all fatalism and gallows humour, with both a beating heart and an inquiring mind lingering beneath its tough-guy bluster.

Guardian (UK)


It's puckish and playful, mercurial and clever, rattling with gallows laughter as it paints a portrait of an Irish community that is at once intimate and alienated.

An Online Universe


Confessions don’t usually end with someone threatening to murder the priest Sunday week. This person isn’t seeking forgiveness, he is seeking retribution... a rather unique possible murder mystery.

At The Movies (Australia)


A strange and unsettling examination of contemporary Ireland... a tough but very impressive movie.

So disappointed!

See Rewa’s review further up, I have nothing else to add.




Watch it at least twice

On first viewing I (and everyone in the audience) was so shocked and engrossed in the story and the characters that I hardly dared to allow myself to laugh at the plentiful humour; instead I concentrated on digesting the brilliant food for thought on offer.

On my second viewing I literally laughed my way through the film to the surprise and almost outrage of first time viewers in the audience.


Slightly off Mark

Fantastic throughout until the ending climax but worth to see for the wonderful performance by Brendan Gleeson.




So disappointed

I went with a group of five and at the end we laughed because we thought this film so ridiculous. Good points- acting, scenery. Bad points - ludicrous storyline, dark and sinister overtones throughout, so bad it ended up as a joke. I wouldn't care except I'd rather see a decent film if I am going to the trouble to take a group out to the movies. I'd seriously give it a miss. The trailers had the only lighter moments in the film, so any that there are, you've seen them.

A Good Sunday Watch

Over hyped. No matter how I watched it, it was like watching a whole lot of dramas unfolding in everyday life. I can catch that on TV. Only good thing about this drama was, it had an ending.




A film that stays with you

Always a good sign, a film that has a powerful message on several levels. Set in a somewhat forbidding area of Ireland, raw and bleak, it tells the story of a genuinely Christlike man suffering rejection, scoffing and raw hatred, for which he returns nothing but understanding and compassion towards those who mock and threaten him. A priest at that, mirroring the Great High Priest who was crucified for the sins of mankind, hence its title. This is a must-see film for thinking people who appreciate great acting and wonderful cinematography. Engrossing and shocking yes. A comedy, black or otherwise, it is not.

Another Great McDonagh/Gleeson Movie

That’s what I felt as I walked out of the sixteen seat, boutique room at the Academy Cinema, Auckland, where I watched ‘Calvary.’ The dialogue was intelligently written and weaves its way through the subject religion in a way which I – as a staunch atheist – felt was very accessible and tasteful, something I was worried about. On top of that, thanks to Brendan Gleeson’s splendidly endearing performance it was a movie I could become genuinely invested in.

But holy crap was it darker than I expected.

Now, my expectations may be entirely at fault here, but if you go into this movie expecting another ‘The Guard’ then it is my sworn duty as a man with a keyboard to warn you now: this movie is a multitude of shades darker than The Guard.

You will watch as almost literally every character spills their various troubles onto the big (or in our case somewhat moderately sized) screen, and you will watch as they all get progressively more screwed up and unfixable. That being said, it does make for a dramatic, interesting, and emotional movie, and after wading through my local Event Cinemas line up of terrible popcorn movies, I was glad to see a bit of emotion!

It’s not perfect, obviously. There are some poor performances by some of the supporting cast, but they still feel quite easy to watch. It’s like watching a genuine little Irish community struggling to cope with the big bad world. It makes you feel like a part of the community, in a way, much like The Guard did as well. There are also a few scenes and characters that weren’t entirely necessary - and a few other loose ends that never got tied up - but that’s not what will linger as you exit the cinema.

Truth be told it’s the ending that you’ll be talking about. It’s the ending I’ve seen other people write about, certainly. It’s a good ending to talk about – though not necessarily a good ending. I think it’s the only way this movie could have ended, but that’s just me. You have to see it for yourself, I think.

Overall it’s a wonderful movie to watch. Not at all a happy movie, and it takes ‘black comedy’ in the blackest of senses, but it’s a definite must see this film festival and I strongly suggest you head along. There are plenty of independent cinemas playing it where you can get cheap tickets so you have no excuse!

Good movie

The atmosphere to this movie is brooding and slightly sinister. The village it is set in manifests a dysfunctional air, and not a little malevolence. This is not a comedy at all...anything but!. But it is very absorbing and draws you in. Recommended.

PS Unlike some reviewers, I did not find the ending jarring at all. Rather, I thought it poignant.


I thoroughly enjoyed this brooding,dark engrossing and yes,witty, rather than comical Irish drama/mystery from beginning to end.The acting was sharp,credible and faultless with a winning performance especially from Brendan Gleeson as Father James.In a fanatical world obsessed with sex, violence and super heroes, this performance was a welcome deviation from the norm, the plot having the viewer question his own conscience and moral conduct. I found the ending to be totally conducive to the plot, expected but unexpected.No fairy story here. The only complaint I have is with the woman three seats away from me, noisily crunching on a bag of chips throughout the entire film.Even after vehemently being told to shoosh by the chap seated in front of me, she defiantly persisted without compunction right to the bitter end.A visit to her local confessional is in order me thinks. :)




Great performances

An engrossing thriller, black? yes, funny? hardly.