October 7, 2014


John Michael McDonagh, 2014
Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is taking confessions at his small-town church when a voice tells him that he plans on killing him in a week, revenge for the sexual abuse that the mysterious man was subjected to as a child.

The small-town Irish setting is gloomy, lonely. The visual aesthetic spills over to the overall tone of the film. The town consists of quiet encounters of it’s inhabitants during the day, and the consumption of spirits at the local bar come nighttime. Father James lost his wife years before he entered the priesthood, and you get a sense that it’s a grief that he carries with him through his daily life. He’s surrounded by many morally compromised people in his small Irish community. Adulterers, abusers, drunks, sex addicts, the greedy. They all float around him as if he’s some kind of central force that they can descend upon every Sunday to clear their conscience. When his daughter comes to visit him, it’s a reminder of his past life and his inability to completely escape the memories. After all Father is an enduring figure. Willing to drink a beer with his congregation members, but reluctant to consume whiskey (for an unspoken reason, presumably justified). When he hears the familiar voice through the grated window of the confession booth, he struggles to understand why he would be chosen to be the human sacrifice for some unknown priest’s sins. He has put in good time becoming a good man. But he is forced to spend the following week reflecting on his life, on humanity in general. He ultimately realizes that he is no different than the people of his community. They all breathe the same air, have the same blood in their veins. It’s all taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to show up on that beach the following week.

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