"Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved". "Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned".

This is the quote from St Augustine that introduces us to "Calvary", writer/director John Michael McDonagh's follow-up to "The Guard". Almost as soon as the quote fades from the screen we're thrust into a fantastic opening scene that sets the tone for what's to follow.

Father James (Brendan Gleeson) is taking his usual Sunday confession, on the other side of the confession box and off screen we hear a man’s voice, (the voice is known to Father James but his identity is never revealed to the audience), he tells him, “I first tasted semen when I was 7 years old". As the camera stays transfixed on the obviously shocked father, he goes on to confess that over the course of five years he was repeatedly raped by a priest. This was not Father James doing but he's is the one that will have to pay the price for the sins of his peers. “I’m going to kill you because you’re innocent. No one will pay attention if a bad Priest dies but the death of a good Priest like you that will make everyone notice". Father James is then given until the following Sunday to put his house in order and then he has to meet the man on the beach where he is going to die by his hands.

What follows is not so much a whodunit, but more like a who’s going to do it, as Father James goes about his coastal village tending his flock and trying to come to terms with his impending demise. Unfortunately for The Father his flock appear more wolf than sheep and each have their own grudge against him.

Could it be local butcher Jack Brennan (O'Dowd) or his drug addicted adulteress wife Veronica (Orla O'Rourke) or perhaps it could even be her Ghana-born lover Simon Asamoah (Isaach de Bankolé)? Or could it the rich banker Michael Fitzgerald (Dylan Moran) or cynical Dr. Frank Harte (Aidan Gillen)? The list goes on and on. The arrival of The Father's troubled daughter Fiona (Kelly Reilly), Father James is no saint himself, further muddies the water as his date with destiny quickly approaches.

"Calvary" plays like an old fashioned 50's black and white mystery thriller. Margaret Lockwood's Agatha Christie wouldn't look out of place in the Irish village.

Brendan Gleason is fantastic as Father James, he oozes authority and vulnerability in equal measures and he's nothing short of mesmerising when on screen. That's not to say that "Calvary" is a one man show, it's not, each of the cast contribute in their own way to what is without doubt a fantastic piece of storytelling. The opening act in the confessional box in terms of setting the scene for what's to follow is perfect and when it does come the ending is every bit as powerful and emotional as that fantastic opening. Don't miss.

Calvary (15)

1h 40m

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Aiden Gillen, Kelly Reilly, Dylan Moran

UK Release: Friday 11th April 2014

Calvary - "Sinners"

Calvary - "A Matter Of Faith" Featurette