Written and Directed By John Michael McDonagh
I really liked this film. Humorously enough, halfway through I remember thinking that it shared a certain sensibility with In Bruges, with a tone similar to Martin McDonagh. I was amused to find out that this was written and directed by his brother, and I had no clue going in.
The concept is great. Father James (Brendan Gleeson), in confessional, is told by a random parishioner that he was abused by a priest as a child. As a measure of revenge, he has decided the innocent James has to die for vengeance, in one week’s time. It’s eye for an eye, in the worst way. James doesn’t know whose voice was speaking to him, so he continues about his routine, trying to look after all manner of sin and sinners in his small, seaside Irish town. Navigating the insanity he’s surrounded by while potentially staring down the barrel of his own impending murder is quite interesting to watch and speaks to a well-written script. You nevwr know where it is going next, which makes it even better.
Gleeson is wonderful as James, keeping a straight face amidst some absurd situations and conversations, and never tipping his hand regarding the fear of what’s coming. He has some great scenes with Kelly Reilly as his troubled daughter, and not only do they work well together, but those scenes really help to add some seriousness to the black humor. It takes on a heavy topic but the script mostly treats it with levity until the later stages, and all the while Gleeson owns the screen. He gives the sense that he accepts the notion of paying for the crimes of the church, as one of its representatives. Perhaps it’s guilt by association. Or maybe this is his penance for something untold. This is certainly a movie I will recommend to people and I look forward to seeing McDonagh’s other work.