“Next Sunday I’m going to kill you, Father” … these are the words Father James (played by Brendan Gleason) hears as he takes one of his parishioners’ confession in his tiny village church, in coastal Ireland. So … that gives him exactly a week to figure out who plans to do this to him and what, if anything, he can do about it. For the next seven days, Father James is understandably unsettled by this but he tries to continue with his church work. He replays the conversation over in his mind to try to identify the perpetrator of such an act. In this small village, every resident has their own life challenges and faces difficulties. In fact, Father James himself isn’t without his flaws – coming late to the priesthood after leading a full and active adult life. The mystery is perplexing. The week goes on and events in the village are dramatic – as it turns out, several people have both the motivation and the means to do this and Father James reaches no clear conclusion. Then the dreaded Sunday arrives and he heads to the designated meeting place to finally face his aggressor. Will he find the strength inside to understand, forgive and dissuade the aggrieved person from committing such a violent act?
This movie is fascinating – the rugged Irish coastal village is the harsh backdrop to this harsh story – nothing exists happily here, the people are all troubled in one way or another and Father James does his best to salve and ease the lives of the people – but he’s honest with it and doesn’t pretend to have the answer to anyone’s problems. The telling of this story reminds me of Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milk Wood”, in that there are a range of quirky characters here and each one has their own issues and their own story. The performances are great and the movie has been awarded in the Irish Film and Television Awards and the Berlin International Film Festival. It’s not a happy movie, by any stretch – but it’s good. Well deserved.
Made in 2014. Directed by John Michael McDonagh