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Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, M Emmet Walsh, Marie-Josée Croze, Isaach De Bankolé, Aiden Gillen, Dylan Moran, Domnhall Gleeson, Orla O'Rourke, Pat Shortt

Director: John Michael McDonagh

This is the star and director's follow-up to The Guard, but anyone expecting another film in that vein is in for a disappointment.

Fr James (Brendan Gleeson), an ex-alcoholic, ex-married Catholic priest in a small Sligo town, universally liked for his down-to-earth wisdom, receives a chilling promise in the Confessional from a man who, raped by a priest when he was seven, now plans to shoot an innocent one in revenge - in one week's time.

That leaves Fr James quite literally looking down a barrel.

The logic of this is never quite clear, but Fr James is inexplicably at a loss to know what to do about it, buying himself a gun and getting drunk. At the same time, he's concerned with the arrival of his daughter (Reilly) who, at 30, has just attempted suicide.

Though humorous asides lighten the mood earlier on, this is a film that grows darker as it progresses. The would-be killer isn't difficult to guess though (Fr James, of course, has recognised the voice, which makes his indecision all the more baffling) even if we're never quite sure who burned the good father's church down or cut his dog's throat.

Gleeson does a first-class job as the beleaguered cleric, and some rather strange supporting characters are also well played, including a welcome return for grizzled American character actor Walsh. For all, its virtues, though, the film never quite convinces you that its many characters aren't a shade too far removed from reality.

David Quinlan

Ireland 2013. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour (unspecified).
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 05 Apr 2014