Calvary ★★★★

A fascinating, complex mystery whose layers of meaning and mulling of death, life, loss, spirituality, forgiveness and injustice will certainly require multiple viewings to fully unravel, though it's in essence a remake of High Noon with I Confess baked into it (which allows the inherently ludicrous premise of High Noon to make sense). Brendan Gleeson is an Irish priest given a seven-day warning during a confession that he is to be murdered, not for being a bad man but for being a good one. During the week to follow we meet the scattered denizens of his small town, whose opinion of him runs a broad gamut, and it serves as both a rollout of the man's loved ones and of the suspects (though we're told early on that Father James already knows the identity of his would-be killer, so it's a mystery only for us). The story ruminates without being dour, slow or humorless -- it's in fact one of the best-paced and edited recent films I've seen -- and the entire cast is extraordinarily good, including the actors you primarily know from British sitcoms. And in its subtle examination of how grief and trauma resonates differently -- and the ability or inability of religion to contend with or resolve it -- it's unexpectedly and deeply moving at times. Only big problem is the dreadful music score, inappropriately syrupy in just the moments when it doesn't need to exist at all.

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