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written and directed by John Michael McDonagh . It stars Brendan Gleeson , Chris O'Dowd , Kelly Reilly , Aidan Gillen , Dylan Moran and Isaach de Bankolé . The film began production in September 2012 and was released in April 2014in Ireland and the United Kingdom, in July in Australia and August 2014 in the United States. The film was screened at the 2014 Sundance Film Festivaland at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival .

In a dark Catholic confessional, an unseen man tells Father James he was horribly sexually abused as a child by a priest, promising to kill James at the beach the next Sunday (James being a good man whose death will impact the church more than would that of an abusive priest). James has a week to arrange his affairs. His bishop leaves it to James to decide whether to notify the police. James' daughter Fiona has attempted suicide after feeling abandoned following her mother’s death and her father’s entry into the priesthood. Their rapprochement is a principal theme of the film.

Local butcher Jack Brennan has hit his unfaithful wife, Veronica, and James confronts him. Jack denies it, blaming Veronica’s African lover, Simon. James goes about his pastoral duties, and obtains a revolver for an elderly American writer who is contemplating suicide to thwart senile decay.

Millionaire Michael Fitzgerald’s family has deserted him and he feels directionless and detached from reality. At the hospital, following a car crash, James performs the last rites for the French driver, and comforts the widow, Teresa. She stoically accepts her husband's fate, believing premature death unfair only if the victim has never felt real love. James visits Freddie Joyce in jail, a killer who ate his female victims and now, asking for forgiveness, cannot recall where one particular victim is buried. James accuses him of insincerity, saying if God cannot understand Freddie, nobody can. Through James's dealings with Freddie, Michael, another potential suicide (Milo), Teresa and Fiona, the film reflects on guilt, sin, virtue, depression and suicide.

That night, James witnesses the burning down of his church. He later tells Veronica he will never abandon her, spiritually at least, and she reciprocates. Finding his dog dead with its throat cut, he buries it, weeping, but keeps the death from his daughter the next morning as she leaves. Walking a country lane, James chats innocently with a young girl when the father drives up, grabs the girl and crudely questions James’s motives. At the pub, the doctor/pathologist tells James a horrifying story about a small child rendered deaf, mute, paralyzed and blind after botched anaesthesia, and contemplates the ineffable terror of such sensory isolation. James, angered, gets drunk, argues with cynical publican Brendan Lynch and empties the revolver into the furnishings. Brendan wields a baseball bat and later, a beaten-up James is recovering at home. He violently berates his house guest, Father Leary who, offended, leaves the next morning. James decides to fly to Dublin, but returns from the airport after meeting Teresa and seeing her husband's coffin by the aircraft. Heading to the beach on the fateful Sunday, James chats with the ageing writer en route, then by phone to Fiona, saying sin is considered too much and virtue not enough. He stresses the importance of forgiveness and they forgive one another.

After James throws his revolver into the sea, a distressed Michael walks up and James promises to visit him. Later, the altar boy, painting a seascape at the top of the beach, witnesses James waiting on the beach as Jack Brennan strides along the shore towards James, a revolver outstretched. Jack confesses to the arson and to hitting Veronica but denies killing the dog. Jack, hearing that James shed tears over his dog, asks if he cried similarly over news reports concerning children abused by priests. James says no, he had felt detached from such stories—whereupon the enraged Jack shoots James in the side. The boy runs towards them but James shouts at him to flee. Jack says it is too late to stop, telling James to say his prayers. When James says he already has, Jack delivers a mortal shot to the priest's head.

In brief tableaux, we see the parishioners and Teresa going about their quotidian lives. The final scene ends as Fiona visits Jack in prison, each tentatively picking up a telephone handset to talk across the intervening glass panel.

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