The new film from writer/director John Michael McDonagh (The Guard) stars Brendan Gleeson in a magnificent performance as a village priest facing his own mortality and the increasing loss of faith in his community.
During confessional at the start of the film, Father James is threatened to be killed in one week's time, for the sins of another priest. He spends his last days tending to the secular flock of townsfolk in his small Irish village. His resolve to the church never waivers even as the threat becomes more ominous. As the week progresses, we are introduced to the various members of the village ( Chris O'Dowd, Adian Gillen, and M. Emmett Walsh, among others) , many of whom are suspects, as well as his daughter, Fiona, back home after a failed suicidal attempt.
The film co-stars Kelly Reilly as Fiona and the relationship between Father James and his frail daughter is warm and tender. His relationship with the rest of the town is strained at best. While many people are friendly enough, Father James presence seems barely tolerated and his faith is constantly tested.
Philosophical and spiritual questions are raised throughout and the film is a serious drama. There is a prevailing dark humor that helps lighten the mood but the overall tone is foreboding and grim as the story moves towards its inevitable conclusion.
The film is a microcosm of problems faced by the Catholic church in a world filled with an increasing loss of faith. Despite its dark and depressing tone, it's still a terrific film, both thoughtful and entertaining with beautiful scenes of the Irish coastline.