This week has left me a bit unsettled in terms of movies. The Oscars came and went I just sighed, “oh well.”
I am usually pretty spot on with movie award nominations (and winners) but this year has been all over the place with no single film standing out for the masses.
As there are so many good books that get overlooked, there are also so many good movies who suffer the same anonymity, especially in the flare of blockbusters.
One that sticks out is the 2014 film, Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson (remember Hamish from Braveheart?), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), and Kelly Reilly (Flight). It is an Irish-made film by the talented director, John Michael McDonagh. I watched it in theater last year and then again this past week at home. I have always had an affinity toward Irish films like The Commitments, Waking Ned Devine, Michael Connolly, In the Name of the Father, Bloody Sunday, and Once. There is something about the unique dry humor in Irish films as well as their ability to hit some of the deepest emotional themes in life through storytelling.
Calvary may just be one of the finest films that has ever moved me. My film aficionado friend Erik Parks featured Calvary as the top movie of 2014, even beating out some of the Oscar winners this year. I agree with him.
The Irish sure know how to tell a story, especially a familiar story.
Erik shared a great overview of the movie from his blog:
The opening of this film shows a good priest in confession as he listens to a mystery man recount his years of sexual abuse by a bad priest. He then tells the good priest that as an act of revenge, he plans on killing him in a week. Crazy setup but a fantastic film that shows a faithful man of God dealing with psychological torture as he continues to love and care for the wicked people of his town. Mercy, love, forgiveness and ultimately Christ-likeness are the overarching themes in this dark, but extraordinary little Irish film. (Rated R for sexual references, language, brief strong violence and some drug use.)
I’m not sure why people are so afraid of the Gospel. When you read about Jesus, this is what we get. It’s very R-rated. It’s bloody. It’s violent. It’s poignant and challenging. As you read in the Bible within the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you get the nitty-gritty of Jesus’ life and death and in Calvary the movie, it follows well. That is why Calvary succeeds because it doesn’t hold back from real life.
Calvary may be the best movie representation of the Gospel I’ve ever seen.
It is rich with symbolism as well as lines to make you contemplate and pray over.
Father James Lavelle: “God is great and the limits of his mercy have not been set.”
Father James Lavelle: I think there’s too much talk about sins to be honest not enough talk about virtues.
Fiona Lavelle: What would be your number one?
Father James Lavelle: I think forgiveness has been highly underrated.
Father James Lavelle: He was a good man, your husband? (to a lady who just lost her husband)
Teresa: Yes. He was a good man. We had a very good life together. We loved each other very much. And now… he has gone. And that is not unfair. That is just what happened. But many people don’t live good lives. They don’t feel love. That is why it’s unfair. I feel sorry for them.