John Michael McDonagh
Comedy 105 August 8, 2014
With that hook, you'd expect writer-director John Michael McDonagh's (The Guard) film to proceed like a whodunit, with the good priest trying to solve and prevent his death before it happens. Not so. The priest seems so resigned to his fate that, a third of the way through, we forget about the impending crime altogether -- it's at once both Chekhov's gun and simply an excuse to watch closely how the townsfolk act toward a man of the cloth. Gleeson is one of the finest actors we have, and in casting him as the lead, McDonagh stacks the deck so that regardless of our own religious reservations, we're forced to care about Father James as a man. That he has no pretensions his life or death will change anything makes his willing sacrifice all the more saintly.