Calvary is a hard edged, foul-mouthed movie, a tough tale of a priest in a cynical community. A good man struggling to be godly in a seemingly godless place. This is not a story for the faint-hearted. When Father James’s life is threatened in the confessional booth he finds he has a week to set his house in order. It’s a week that will include violence, conflict, dark truths, and a whole plethora of angry, damaged people. Somehow Father James does his best to absorb and challenge the evil around him.
Priests often do not come off well in movies, they are frequently portrayed as bad or bumbling. But this film is different. Father James comes across as a man with a very difficult calling, to be light, compassion and truth in a world where there is darkness and lies. He is weary but he is worldly-wise too, not naive or cowardly when it comes to facing up to the challenge.
Not unlike Jesus.
He came to a community seething with unhappiness and discontent. Rebels plotted and hid in the hills, families struggled to survive under the crippling hand of the Romans, and the authorities meanwhile made a fast buck off the poor and ordinary. There was plenty to rage against. And, like father James, Jesus was worldly-wise. He grew up on those streets, he’d seen it all. And he challenged the system by living differently. His life was threatened, and his reputation smeared by others. At times he had to hide away and operate secretly. And ultimately, like Father James, he knew he had a grizzly appointment with death. But there was more. The very reason priests like father James continue to hold up the light in 2015. There is resurrection.
Calvary is not an ‘enjoyable’ film. I’d venture to say that it’s not a film any Christian would want to see but one every Christian probably ought to see.