Brendan Gleeson plays a small town Irish priest. One day in the confessional, he gets a surprising message. In one week, the person on the other side of that grate is going to kill him. It’s a small town, so Gleeson knows who that other person is; we, the viewers, do not. The film then follows him through the week as he attempts to deal with the poisonous, cruel, venal people that are his parish, come to terms with his purpose in life, attempt to reconnect with his estranged daughter and prepare for death. It’s an unutterably bleak film and one of the best I’ve seen all year. McDonagh’s direction is spare but beautiful. Gleeson’s performance is minimal, restrained and powerful. The score is minimal and gorgeous. And the actors playing the parish regulars are, to a man/woman, astounding. Aiden Gillen as an atheistic, vitriolic doctor; Dylan Moran as a sociopathic landowner; Kelly Reilly as the broken, suicidal daughter; Orla O’Rourke as an unrepentant, vicious tongued adulterer; Domnhall Gleeson in a brief cameo as a man in prison for murder. It’s a film about so many things; the crimes of the Catholic church, the cruelty of the average person, the failure of goodness to accomplish anything, the modern flippancy toward religion, the role of religion in modern society. And, of course, a deeply, powerfully affecting personal drama. The film has the single most arresting opening line of any film I’ve seen in years and the final shot is one of the most devastating of recent memory. In between, it’s absolutely perfect. I fear this film will sink into obscurity instead of becoming the classic for all time it deserves to be. Please find a way to see it and tell everyone you can to do the same. It’s a masterpiece and if there’s any justice, not that this film argues that there ever is, it’ll still be seen and discussed in a hundred years. It’s astonishing. Highly recommended. 4 stars.
tl;dr – thought-provoking, masterful, intensely of the moment, yet a classic for all time. A film that simply must be seen. 4 stars.