Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Running Time: 100 minutes
Synopsis: Killing a priest on a Sunday. That'll be a good one…
John Michael McDonagh's follow-up to his debut The Guard is a black comedy about a good priest tormented by his community. Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) is a good man intent on making the world a better place, but he is continually shocked and saddened by the spiteful and confrontational inhabitants of his small country town. One day, his life is threatened during confession, and the forces of darkness begin to close in around him.
Release Date: July 3rd, 2014
Cal・va・ry \ˈkal-v(əә-)rē\ noun, plural Cal・va・ries.
1. ( often lowercase ) a sculptured representation of the Crucifixion, usually erected in the open air.
2. ( lowercase ) an experience or occasion of intense mental questioning or transformation though anguish.
Calvary, John Michael McDonagh's blackly comic drama, begins with an audacious threat.
In a small Irish parish – in the midst of his confession – a man tells the notoriously good-hearted local priest, Father James, that he should settle all his affairs since the confessor plans to murder him this coming Sunday: thus begins a pre-murder mystery. Over the next seven days, the marked priest will move through his doubt-ridden community making amends and meeting with the various hostile suspects who seem to be everywhere in this small town – from a caustic, agnostic, opinionated doctor to a guilt-ridden financial speculator with a 'business proposition" for the priest, to a jealous husband and a cheating boyfriend who do not wish to be judged.
As he engages with a wide swath of parishioners who each may have their reasons, justified or otherwise, for vendettas against him, an increasingly sinister atmosphere seems to close in around Father James. Yet, with the Sunday showdown rapidly approaching, the priest finds himself confronting not only the confounding limits of modern faith and his own impending mortality, but also realizing his strength in the lost arts of grace, forgiveness and humility.
The film is the second written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, following the acclaimed The Guard, utilising much of the same accomplished ensemble cast which garnered a Golden Globe® nomination for Calvary star Brendan Gleeson.
The Guard was a raucous crime comedy, a buddy cop movie with friction between a corrupt Irish policeman (Gleeson) and an uptight FBI agent (Don Cheadle). Calvary, though fiercely witty, heads into more emotionally complex and unabashedly moral territory. The result is a wickedly droll portrait of an embattled man of the cloth (Gleeson) forced to confront modern life's volatile mixture of desire and sin, corruption and compassion, while keeping his faith alive.
As Brendan Gleeson recalls: 'What must it be like to be vilified for the sins of others, as part of an organisation that you have joined, albeit with different aspirations? What intrigued us was the idea of how difficult it must be to uphold a sense of truth and a sense of goodness when you're being vilified. John said, -If I wrote a good priest would you play him?' I said, -Yes I would,' without hesitation."
The story follows the contours of a conventional thriller, but rather than a whodunit, John Michael McDonagh wrote a 'who's-gonna-do-it?" with his inquisitive priest trying to come to terms with why a parishioner feels driven to the depths of murder, at the same time as he comes to terms with the unresolved strands of his life, his profession and his own personal search for comprehension and relevance. The kicker is that he has only seven days to do so.
'The plot's ticking clock is both a reference to Hitchcock's I Confess, and to the five stages of grief," John Michael McDonagh comments. (The stages of grief, based on the model of psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, each of which manifests in the midst of the story's murder-mystery.) And yet, the writing of Calvary is significantly outside the normal bounds of the crime genre because its main character is very much fueled by virtue. 'It's a lot more difficult to write for a good character because the narrative drive in a thriller is usually more from the antiheroes or villains in the story, so that was a bit tricky," admits John Michael McDonagh.
Though the eternally harsh beauty and current economic distress of Ireland might echo the story's themes, John Michael McDonagh always saw Cavary as a reflection of what is going on all around the world, transcending the charms of its locale. 'It's not a film about Ireland and Irish troubles, it's a film about everybody's troubles," the writer-director says. The script brought aboard Reprisal Films' producers Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez- Marengo who also produced The Guard. They were hooked from the very first words of the script, a shocking confession of horrific childhood abuse followed by the merciless intent to kill an innocent man – namely, the priest.
'You start with a priest threatened in confession," explains Chris Clark, 'and then he has to wrestle with his demons about whether, and how, he's going to face his would-be killer. There's a mounting sense of suspense throughout, almost a Western feel . . .where you anticipate a High Noon moment is coming."
Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo were also thrilled to reunite with John Michael McDonagh. 'John Michael McDonagh is a very confident writer-director," says Flora Fernandez-Marengo. 'He knows what he wants. He plans in a very detailed and thorough way. His screenplay drafts are already highly developed. In the case of Calvary, you had a draft that you could go out and cast immediately."
As production got underway, James Flynn of Octagon Films (executive producer on the premium television hits 'The Borgias" and 'The Tudors") came aboard. He too was lured by the script. 'The film is set up brilliantly," says James Flynn. 'There's the thriller element - but then there's also a very poignant story that is about family, age, dysfunction and love. It's a broad and sweeping story covering a lot of themes and spectrums."
Calvary brought together an array of literary, artistic and cinematic threads in a deeply layered story in which macabre comedy is constantly dissolving into existential darkness, and vice versa. 'The humor is anarchic, dark and lacerating, à la Bunuel; the mise-en-scène indebted to Andrew Wyeth; the philosophy to Jean Améry; and the transcendental style inspired by Robert Bresson," remarks John Michael McDonagh.
That swirl of themes and moods would all emerge in a 29-day shoot in the starkly lyrical fishing village of Easkey in County Sligo, Ireland. There, the raw, weather-beaten landscape remains largely unchanged, but where the world of a priest such as Father James has shifted seismically.
Father And Daughter
As Father James tours his village in the eventful seven days after his deadly threat by a would-be assassin, he encounters worshipers who seem to simultaneously revile his presence yet yearn for his counsel. They are such a flamboyant mix of mischievous cynics, nihilists and hedonists – a distinctly modern mélange of the broken, disaffected and irreverently disillusioned – that the diversity of the ensemble drew a particularly accomplished cast, with many of the film's actors taking unpredictable turns.
"It's a script for actors, so it was a gift. We got an amazing reaction from the acting community," recalls Flora Fernandez Marengo.
Casting director Jina Jay became involved at least a year before production commenced to assemble the large ensemble cast. Though John Michael McDonagh had a fairly clear idea in advance of who he wanted for each role, securing the right people at the right time was the challenge.
Brendan Gleeson, who was there with John Michael McDonagh when he conceived the story (at a pub in Galway), was already a lock. Known for roles ranging from Scorsese's Gangs of New York to the action-adventure Troy to the comic thriller In Bruges (directed by McDonagh's brother, Martin), and then The Guard, this role would take him to places he'd never before been, as he contemplated the full contours of the seemingly honorable yet mortally endangered Father James.
Brendan Gleeson's earthy, humane priest was not that long ago himself a layman, married with a daughter until the crisis of his wife's death provoked a spiritual change. Since then, he has devoted himself to a rather long-lost ideal – to being steadfast, decent and forgiving in a world where steadfastness, decency and forgiveness can come off as entirely absurd.
It's a comic truth that doesn't escape Father James. His parishioners make it plenty clear that they question the point of his metaphysical ideals, the arrogance of his authority, not to mention his relevance to their daily lives. Yet, there beneath the priest's unavoidable sense of self-irony and dismay, remains a current of longing that perhaps he can still comfort the sick, aid the desperate and absolve the ever-magnifying sins of his parish.
Father James seems to be almost the last of a dying tribe, a man defiantly out of sync with our cynical times - which made him utterly compelling to Brendan Gleeson.
'The story is about the notion of goodness," says the actor. 'We're in a very strange time, when it's difficult for people to believe in heroes any more. I play a lot of anti-heroes and that's easy to do when disillusionment has set in. But I believe we're swimming against the tide with Calvary. It's kind of revolutionary now to think of goodness as an aspiration."
He was drawn to Father James as a man who genuinely believes in being good"but not in order to avoid being bad in some bland, benign way; rather, Father James aims at decency and humility because it is the most uncompromising, even courageous choice when surrounded by corruption and earned mistrust. The more he explored Father James' inner life, the more it took its toll – but like the priest he portrays, Brendan Gleeson says he tried to skirt despair.
'As we were making the film, the notion of this man suffering for other people's sins somehow became very real to me," Brendan Gleeson reflects. 'It was almost as if I was some kind of syringe, sucking the toxic poison of cynicism out of people. Day by day, scene by scene, it was remorseless. I was supposed to be the good fellow who has all the answers. The priest is supposed to be a beacon of hope. But I did find it very difficult emotionally."
He continues: 'When you are playing a character that is constantly under emotional assault, you also have to be in that place. It was a very intense shoot; a short, intense shoot. It could be relentless, absorbing all that contempt and hate and poison . . . and you begin to understand, in a personal way, the notion of Calvary," he continues, referencing the film's title, based on the locale of the Crucifixion, and a word which has come to mean any experience of intense mental questioning or transformation through anguish.
Though Brendan Gleeson acknowledges that the Catholic vestments have come to be viewed with warranted scorn and anger in the wake of so many shattering scandals, he says when he put them on, he saw them through Father James' eyes. 'When you put the uniform on unashamedly, it becomes a very particular journey," he says. 'I honestly felt like I was the protectorate of goodness."
That goodness, however, meets inner and outer obstacles at every turn and Brendan Gleeson relished exploring the details of Father James' rather slippery relationships with his challenging parishioners. "The ensemble cast is a big part of Calvary," says Brendan Gleeson. "There's a largerthan- life quality in all the actors and they brought phenomenal energy. Each person came in with the most amazing sense of commitment and preparation. It's a testament to John but it's a testament to them as well. Every week we had new presences taking the place by storm."
Brendan Gleeson worked particularly closely with Kelly Reilly, who plays his self-described 'troubled" daughter Fiona, arriving fresh off a botched suicide that has left her very much alive, if shell-shocked. Her presence becomes a kind of catharsis for the priest, both as a Father and as a father.
'The scenes that John Michael McDonagh had written between the priest and Fiona really broke my heart," says Brendan Gleeson. 'This is a man whose fatherhood, on both counts, is being undermined, when all he wants to do is love."
Kelly Reilly, a rising English actress who has been seen in Flight and Sherlock Holmes, was drawn to Fiona's fractured but palpable strength.
'John Michael McDonagh wrote a wonderful character in Fiona. I completely got her straight away," says Kelly Reilly. 'I love how smart and creative she is. She's sort of her own woman." As for her recurring death wish, Kelly Reilly says, 'We don't really know why. She just shows up in town lost, and we know she has very troubled relationships with men. Maybe she is bipolar, somebody who is very smart but cannot manage her depression. She has a lot of issues she needs to face – and one of the main issues is her relationship with her father."
Kelly Reilly notes that though Fiona sees an uncrossable gulf between herself and her father – whose shocking choice to leave their family life and join the priesthood, of all things, felt like a kind of betrayal - there is still an abiding love between them that has helped her stay afloat.
'We find out, during the course of the film, that after her mum passed away, Fiona's father joined the priesthood, left his past life behind, returned to Ireland, and left Fiona bereft of both parents," she explains. 'It's not that they haven't kept in contact. They do, but their relationship is not in a good place. Now, though she doesn't know about the threat he is facing, she's exploring - emotionally and intellectually – the demons between them that need to be expelled."
It Takes A Village
Among Father James' rather flawed flock, nearly anyone could be behind a death threat as the populace all seems to seethe just beneath the surface. A perfect example is local butcher Jack, the wronged husband of an unapologetically philandering wife, who is no exception. Taking a dramatic turn in the role is Chris O'Dowd, who first broke out internationally in the hit comedy Bridesmaids and a Tony® nominee for his portrayal of Lenny on Broadway's Of Mice and Men opposite James Franco.
Chris O'Dowd notes that Jack struggles with a double whammy of complexes: invisibility and inferiority. 'Jack has been sharing his wife with another man and he finds that tricky. He is the cuckolded man of the community. Everyone looks down on him and everyone thinks he's a bit pathetic. He's walked all over," Chris O'Dowd observes. 'Jack is definitely a damaged guy."
Like others in the town, he maintains an unstable relationship with such seemingly alien ideas in current society as devotion and unhesitating faith. 'I think Jack actually likes the Priest, although he doesn't necessarily treat him well. Jack struggles with his faith and he has many reasons to," Chris O'Dowd points out. 'The sacrament of marriage, which he entered into probably with all the good will in the world, has chewed him up and spat him out."
On the other end of the spectrum is Michael Fitzgerald, the fabulously wealthy one-percenter who lacks for nothing but a scrap of meaning, living alone in his cavernous mansion, keeping company only with his guns and horses. Irish comedian Dylan Moran, who plays the character, says of him: 'Michael Fitzgerald is somebody who has an emptiness at the heart of his life. He pushes everybody away because he's not able to be honest with anybody, including himself."
Still, Dylan Moran notes that Michael Fitzgerald does harbor a vestige of belief, even if his approach to redemption is wholly monetary. As for his pursuit of the wary Father James, he says: 'I think he desperately wants to talk honestly and openly to somebody, but he's afraid of what that emotional cost will be."
Meanwhile local surgeon, Dr. Frank Harte might be in the business of saving lives but gleefully disdains the business of saving souls. Taking the role of the hedonist atheist is Aidan Gillen, best known as the scheming power broker Littlefinger on HBO's 'Game of Thrones" and Baltimore politician Tommy Carcetti on 'The Wire."
'Dr. Frank Harte is doctor without a lot of heart," Aidan Gillen comments. 'It's like one of those trick names in a comedy of manners that defines a character's personality. He's quite cold-hearted. He's a kind of cool, detached observer who sits back and watches people make their way to their graves. He's quite glib and very much a realist. He feels there's no any point in getting into any sort of state, tied up in any hysteria. Harte is not fickle."
However, he is a rather keen philosophical rival of Father James, arguing his POV with lacerating zeal every chance he gets. Gillen saw the doctor as one in a whole slew of forces aligned against Father James in the contemporary world. 'I don't think there's a sense in the film that there's a witch hunt against the priest as a person," he explains.
'Instead, you see a gradual turning of the tide against all that he appears to represent." More amenable to Father James is Gerard Ryan, a venerable, ex-pat American novelist living in semi-seclusion on a local island, while seemingly on his last legs and contemplating his own final days.
M. Emmet Walsh, known for his many collaborations with the Coen brothers, takes the role. He says of the character, 'We don't know much about why Gerard came to Ireland, but probably to get away from something, or to be near something. He's befriends people easily enough, but he is naturally kind of solitary. The priest motors over once a week or so to bring him supplies and they have an intellectual relationship. I tease him about Catholicism, but I'm still going to church. Part of my character really does not want to grow old and feeble. When the time comes, Gerard wants to end it himself."
The car mechanic Simon Asamoah is another resident at precarious odds with the priest, especially when Father James inquires about Simon's treatment of his new 'girlfriend," the butcher's wife. Taking the role is Cesar Award-winning actor Isaach de Bankolé (Casion Royale, Mother Of George and numerous films with director Jim Jarmusch), who was intrigued by how Simon might fit into such a cloistered town as an outsider and immigrant.
'Simon Asamoah is in this place maybe not by choice but by necessity," he observes. 'I think perhaps he had to face violence in his past, so now he's here in this small town and he doesn't really want to meet a lot of people. He's a car mechanic, so he has better communication with machines than humans."
Despite Simon Asamoah's anti-authoritarian stance with the priest, de Bankolé sees him as a spiritual person. 'I feel Simon is a real Catholic and he likes God, but he doesn't like the way the church infiltrates people's lives. The priest is judgmental and wants to know what is happening in everyone's lives. Simon is from African descent and he wants to deal with people on equal terms. He doesn't like to be given orders. He doesn't give orders. He believes people should be free to do whatever they want, but with mutual respect."
Amidst all the turmoil of his parish, Father James meets one kindred soul in the week after the lethal warning is issued: Teresa, a French tourist he encounters while administering last rites to her husband, who is mortally wounded in a car accident, played by Marie- Josée Croze (known for Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and The Butterfly and Guillaume Canet's hit thriller Tell No One).
Josee Croze's character may be the sole person who, even in the midst of her own tragedy, joins the priest in a gut commitment to the primacy of faith. 'Teresa and the priest exchange ideas about death and God and life, and they seem to have a kind of strange 10 intimacy on a spiritual level," Josee Croze describes. 'She's an interesting character. I'd love to meet a woman who would speak like she speaks to the priest; the way she reacts to the death of her husband is so very unusual. She tries to rationalize something that's not rational, the loss of someone you love. She's the only one who doesn't want to spit in the priest's face, the only one who keeps her head always above water."
If Teresa gives Father James solace, the local serial killer Freddie Joyce, now thankfully put away for life, drags him into the darkest corners of human damage and indifference. Collaborating with his father once again and playing perhaps the blackest role is Brendan Gleeson's son, Domhnall Gleeson, who recently starred in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The younger Brendan Gleeson was challenged to embody a young man driven beyond all comprehension to rape, murder, and even cannibalism. 'Freddie Joyce did some really bad stuff, and the research for the role was very upsetting," the actor acknowledges. 'I felt he had to be at a different level from anyone else in the film. I don't know that what he does can be explained through logic or even through heartfelt investigation."
Something Domhnall Gleeson was very clear on was how deeply Freddie impacts Father James at this late hour. He says of the single scene that took father and son to a lacerating emotional edge: 'My character's function in the script is to take the priest, in his lowest moment, even lower and make him question the nature of love and God and forgiveness -- and see that it is possible to forgive," Domhnall Gleeson explains. 'When you're confronted with someone who may be pure evil, it takes you into another ring of hell."
One person who is decidedly not up for any of the rings of hell is Father James' often comically out-of-it cohort Father Timothy Leary, who is a by-the-book clergyman with little taste for actual contemplation.
'Father Leary is slightly inept," confesses David Wilmot, who was recently seen in Joe Wright's adaptation of Anna Karenina.
'He's an ordinary, slightly lost fellow in the wrong place. He would like to be in the priest's good books - but he doesn't know how to get in them, and he never will get in them. The priest has high standards, whereas Timothy is mediocre and constantly picks up that he's a disappointment. Of course, it's not really a good time to be a priest in Ireland and he can't cope with that either."
David Wilmot especially enjoyed the rapport with Brendan Gleeson and their on-set conversations. 'The conversation I liked the most with Brendan Gleeson was when he said that with our characters it's sort of 11 like he and I are playing soccer for Barcelona and I'm a disgrace to the team. I've got the same gear on as he does, but he knows I'm not pulling my weight," he recalls. The parish also includes the incensed barman Brendan Lynch, played by Pat Shortt of The Guard, who says, 'My character hates a lot of the things that are going on right now with banks and the financial crisis - and he somehow blames the priest for it. -How come the church never speaks out?' Everyone seems to dislike the Priest in one-way or another. He's constantly bombarded."
Bombarded as he is, one person who seems unlikely to be able to protect the priest is the shady local Detective Inspector Gerry Stanton, played by Gary Lydon, who played the same character in The Guard. 'I have had the honor of playing the same character in three of John's films," Gary Lydon explains. 'Gerry Staton was in [the short film] The Second Death as a maverick cop. In The Guard, he was corrupt and took bribes. In Calvary, he's become cynical about the way things are run. He's a rebel, a punk, a maverick. There's a lot of that in Ireland at the moment. People are disillusioned and I think he represents that cynicism."
There is also mild-mannered Milo who pines for love, or at least the chance to get laid, portrayed by Killian Scott, who was last seen in the Irish television series 'Love/Hate." 'Whereas Aidan, Chris, Orla and Isaach each play characters have quite sinister streaks in them, Milo lacks any of that," observes Scott. 'The priest is the only person he can talk to about his problems, which are quite unusual and challenging. At the same time, he's clearly not very reflective or socially competent. John described the character as though he might have Asperger's Syndrome." The town provocateur is Veronica, the butcher's flagrantly unfaithful wife, played by Orla O'Rourke (Harry Brown).
Orla O'Rourke says she felt empathy for the character, despite her deceitful desires. 'I think she's actually quite a sad character. She's lonely and looking for love – but if she can't find love, then attention of any form will do," she remarks. 'Meanwhile, the priest is trying to draw goodness out of people. Throughout the whole story, you see him desperately trying to do that with everyone, including Veronica."
Rounding out the sizeable ensemble are Owen Sharpe (The Guard) as 'Good Time Leo," the male prostitute with a Bronx affectation; David McSavage as Father James' circumspect Church advisor Bishop Montgomery (who McSavage says is a 'Pontius Pilate type of character who washes his hands of the whole situation"); and Mícheál Óg Lane (The Guard) as the cheeky altar boy and sketch artist who is one of the priest's few confidantes.
Into The West (Of Ireland)
From the moment John Michael McDonagh conceived the story of Calvary, he knew he would set it in Easkey, on Ireland's craggy, wind-battered West Coast – which is not an often filmed area, outside of his own films.
"We had some knowledge of working on the Irish West Coast from The Guard," explains producer Chris Clark. "There is no film industry in Easkey and Sligo. You can use local labor and talent, and we used some local actors for extra roles. Apart from that, you have to bring everything in."
Despite the logistics, the shoot was fast and intense, and began in the deep end. Recalls John Michael McDonagh: 'In the first week, we had a six-day schedule, which included the final confrontation on the beach. It was exhausting and nerve-wracking, but once it was achieved we could press on in the knowledge that we'd shot our ending."
The tight schedule demanded heightened preparation. Before production started, John Michael McDonagh drew up daily storyboards that were then attached to the call sheets to give everyone a vivid preview of what to expect from the day's shoot.
"It was the most amazing thing to do - the storyboards came out with the call sheet," recalls Brendan Gleeson. "You could read the comics, see what you were supposed to prepare, and be prepared. It made complete sense."
Producer James Flynn enjoyed this process. "I remember sitting in the car driving out to the beach and the driver was saying, 'That first shot is going to be really interesting,'" James Flynn recalls. 'Even he knew what was being shot. It got a buzz going with the whole crew. On some films you turn up on set and you're waiting for the director while he walks around, thinking about the set-up, whereas if you know what he's going to do in advance, you can plan ahead."
The film's stirring widescreen imagery was achieved digitally by director of photography Larry Smith, who also worked with John Michael McDonagh on The Guard, shot Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and recently lensed Nicolas Refn's Only God Forgives.
'Shooting on digital brought the budget down to the extent that we could utilize a second camera," notes John Michael McDonagh. 'This obviously helped with the intensity of the performances, but also with achieving the two big set-pieces in the film: the burning of the church and the confrontation on the beach. We could never have completed the schedule without the second camera."
Though Larry Smith had much to work with in the rugged landscape replete with golden dunes and the near-mystical beauty of the grassy, table-shaped giant hill known as Knocknarea, he says the wind that helped carve these features made for constant adversity in production.
"It's very difficult to get cameras set up in high winds. We had howling wind every time we shot outside. We had to get windbreakers, which are large panels held up with scaffolding.
You're talking about a lot of equipment brought down to these isolated beaches," Larry Smith explains. For the climactic confrontation on the beach, John Michael McDonagh and Lary Smith used slo-mo, not to sensationalise what happens between the priest and his nemesis, but to make it more spacious and emphasize the powerful emotions, and basic humanity, of the moment. Adding throughout to the building atmosphere of Calvary is also the work of production designer Mark Geraghty (Everything Is Illuminated, Tristand and Isolde), who was brought on board by James Flynn. "I first came across Mark on The Count of Monte Cristo. He made a huge contribution to bringing that film to Ireland by his sheer vision and presentation skills," says James Flynn.
Mark Geraghty, who crafted key locations including the town hospital, prison and airport, says his biggest challenge was creating the priest's church, which had to be both believable and flammable.
"We shot the interior in an old wooden barn, which we turned into the inside of a timber church. As you can imagine, there aren't many timber churches on this side of Europe," the designer notes. 'We built the exterior in a fabulous location in North County Dublin that looked out over the sea. We built two sides and half a roof and it worked very well." Later, the filmmakers used old school trickery to burn the building to the ground for the arson that proves to the priest that his nemesis is deadly serious. A special effects team set up flame bars, while fire retardant was applied to the wood, so the timber would burn in a dramatically slow fashion.
'The burning-of-the-church sequence was a very intense two nights of shooting, because if we didn't get it right there was no going back; the church was burnt to a crisp," John Michael McDonagh says. 'We had four cameras running on the second night, which was tricky logistically, but it worked out very well."
Costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh (Brideshead Revistied, The Guard) added the final touches to Calvary's characters. For Brendan Gleeson, they utilized an old-fashioned, button-down cassock, which though rarely used anymore, harks back to the priests seen in classic Spaghetti Westerns.
'We wanted an iconic image," says John Michael McDonagh. 'That image is sort of archaic and it sort of represents a church that is gone now."
Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh notes that all the surrounding characters have a kind of purposefully heightened quality that adds not only to the mystery of who is planning to kill the priest, but the more subtle mystery of all that is upending the souls of so many in this seemingly ordinary town. "Some of the characters are hyper-real, but the key was to make sure they each fit into the story and they don't look like a bunch of crazy people," she summarises. 'These are people who each have their idiosyncrasies, which is so important to the overall story. You're meant to be thinking, -There's something not quite right about this whole lot.'"
Release Date: July 3rd, 2014