The Story/The Direction:
In 13th century Ireland, a group of monks must escort a sacred relic across an Irish landscape fraught with peril. Legend says that the relic that they have was used to kill an Irish saint. Among the monks are young Diarmuid (Holland) and "the Mute," (Bernthal), a man with a mysterious past. On their journey, they meet many enemies and Raymond de Merville (Armitage) who has come to Ireland for fame and glory. What also keeps this film interesting is how it deals with many people points of view of what to do with the relic. One side wants to keep the relic from the church so that the church will bow down to their emperor. The other side only wants to show it's power to the church. It is believed that the reason for "The Mute's" surprising fighting ability that it must be due to the relic. This then can be used to make this small band of monks look good in the church's eye as they have found such a powerful religious item. Diarmuid then begins to question his faith after he sees how the relic is being used as a political device.
As the group ventures through Ireland, director Muldowney keeps each scene exciting with his fast pace. His created atmosphere comes off as authentic with its realistic feel of medieval Ireland. Muldowney also chooses to make Ireland look bleak in comparison the thought of Ireland's greenness. He adds this to a Gregorian chant plus violent battles with swords and axes all while speaking many languages including Latin. The multilingual aspect of the film added a lot to the film's atmosphere and places you in 13th century Ireland.
Diarmuid essentially grew up in the abbey and knows very little of the world. However while the older monks make fun of Bernthal's Mute, he treats him as a human being. This innocence that he has makes him a very conflicted character. Holland's young look adds to this as it did in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The star though is Bernthal as the Mute. He has a mysterious history and you wonder why he got to the monastery and why he became mute. Bernthal gives amazing nearly wordless performance. You get a feeling of despair from his eyes and that he is a tortured soul. Bernthal has been growing in popularity in the last few years and I expect that to grow more so.
While this film does well with creating an intriguing environment, it plays it relatively safe in regard to its message. It alludes to ideas of religion aren't as black and white as are thought but nothing really comes of it. This type of film could have made a very intriguing step towards analyzing this idea however it only touched the top of the iceberg. It also can be hard to get attached to these characters due to the dark tone of the film.
There is a lot that Pilgrimage has to offer, good acting and a well-placed environment and an attempt to discuss the complexities of religion. However, as the film progresses and you go on this journey with the monks, you realize that those things may not make the journey worth it. Luckily, it's only an hour and a half film which makes the bad stuff tolerable. If you're a fan of Game of Thrones, you may enjoy this similar violence or if you want to see a film with Bernthal and Holland, you won't be disappointed. It's not a bad film but it's not a great film, only good. You probably won't want to watch it again as I don't.
Rating: 3.0/5.0 bowties
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