Alchemy is easy. Just take one McDonagh and add a Gleeson. It worked for In Bruges and it triumphs again in this story of a rural priest warned by an anonymous parishioner that in one week he must die. Writer-director John Michael McDonagh conjures a place of sin and an act of pointless vengeance: the slaying of a good man to pay for the deeds of a bad one.
Brendan Gleeson dominates, of course, but it's no solo journey. Exceptional casting sees Blood Simple's M. Emmet Walsh, The Wire's Aiden Gillen and Bridemaids' Chris O'Dowd in rare form. Yet it's Kelly Reilly, as the daughter conceived prior to the priesthood, who impresses deepest. Calvary's influences are many and varied, from Bresson and Melville to Hitchcock. In a Sight & Sound interview, the director also acknowledged his choice of shots owed a debt to Australian soap opera, Home and Away.