Against the backdrop of the sex abuse scandals and a Church that seems hell bent on trivializing itself even further, a good priest is made to suffer at the hands of a society that has gone mad with its own depravity and the effects of sin. Even those who still assist at Mass no longer believe. The Faith is lost, abetted no doubt by banal liturgies offered in a spartan timber chapel better suited as a Quaker meeting house than for offering the un-bloody sacrifice of the Mass. Perhaps, such a church was only built because, as part of the plot, it is burnt to the ground. Mercifully, the director has spared us images of Communion in the Hand or other institutionalized abuses. In an artistic way, he shows us that true traditional Catholicism isn’t restricted to the Tridentine Mass.
The movie carries an “R” rating which it easily earns for graphic violence. There is also bad language. Very bad language. It’s the graphic sexual language which serves to prove that there isn’t anything a priest hasn’t heard in the confessional (or hurled at him by a passerby on the street!). Viewers quickly see that priests are engaged in a War with the Culture of Death, an enemy that knows no bounds and doesn’t play fair. The only nudity comes with the appearance of an execrable sodomite who prances around half naked taunting Fr. Lavelle because he can’t tempt him. Nevertheless, Father sees the pain through this man’s facade and his irritating impersonation of James Cagney. His offers to help him are ridiculed and rejected. Clearly, the director isn’t trying to gain sympathy for this lifestyle because in The Guard, the same actor appears as someone arrested for having relations with a lamb. Appropriately in Calvary, he’s the personal whore of the inspector with the local Gardai, a man who has no faith and blames his own banishment to the rural west on the influence of the Church in response to his attempt to bring one of “those pedophile priests” to justice.
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