Irish writer/director John Michael McDonagh’s newest film, the second of a trilogy that began with The Guard, Ireland’s most successful indie ever, is a rich, ripe and altogether delicious whodunit with a difference, starring Brendan Gleeson as a priest in peril. It opens with a bang as an unknown parishioner in the confessional with Gleeson’s Father James announces his plan to kill the priest in seven days not because he was the priest who sexually abused him when he was an altar boy but because he is innocent — and the murder of an innocent priest will afford greater publicity than revenge against the guilty.
It’s a terrific film that boasts a sharp sense of place and a deep love of language. It's puckish and playful, mercurial and clever, rattling with gallows laughter as it paints a portrait of an Irish community that is at once intimate and alienated. There’s a very Irish feel to the whole film, black humour of the darkest variety, shocking moments, and characters to actually care about but it’s ultimately a film of rich layers -- glorious comedic highs are interwoven with meditative moments and flashes of startling hostility and violence. Filmed on location in the west of Ireland along the rocky cliffs of County Sligo, the cinematography mixes up painterly compositions and skewed angles with flair, while the heightened colors of the production design make the interiors practically hum. The underlying solemnity is channeled in the film’s soulful, quasi-sacred score and in the majestic drama of the physical settings. Overall, visually, intellectually and emotionally, McDonagh’s film is one to savor. (R, 100 mins.)
| © 2014 Cape Cinema Group, Inc. |