Saturday, 3 May 2014

Faith, doubt, and the Passion: 'Calvary' and 'Rev.'

In the last month I've seen two extraordinary pieces of writing on faith, doubt and humanity focusing in on a protagonist who is a priest: Irish film-maker John Michael MacDonagh's wonderful, bleak and shockingly moving Calvary, and the (increasingly challenging) third series of the BBC 'black comedy' Rev. Both, I think, are brilliant for the ways in which the central characters, who themselves are flawed humans, try to believe in the good in people in ways that are sometimes uplifting, sometimes demotivating and other times completely heartbreaking. 

Both stories use the Easter narrative to brilliant effect too, allowing the trials of their protagonists to follow a recognisable journey: but it would be giving it away to say too much. The question central to both seems to be whether faith has consonance in the modern world. And just as they appear to answer that question, to get close to an ultimate response, they step back again: infuriatingly, perhaps, but brilliantly, of course. It helps, also, that Brendan Gleeson and Tom Hollander are both wonderful actors of 'face', for want of a better expression. Oh, and look out for Chris O'Dowd in Calvary as a butcher who's handy with a cleaver -- and Liam Neeson as a shell-suit wearing 'God' in Rev. (yes, really).