Dan­ger, beauty in re­li­gious jour­ney

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES REVIEWS - — Katie Walsh

Faith and fear col­lide in the me­dieval ac­tion film “Pil­grim­age.”

For all its bloody and vi­o­lent genre trap­pings, “Pil­grim­age” — di­rected by Bren­dan Mul­downey and writ­ten by Jamie Han­ni­gan — is a gor­geously shot film that care­fully ren­ders the de­tails of this fas­ci­nat­ing his­tor­i­cal pe­riod.

It’s 1209 and Ir­ish monks are tasked with es­cort­ing a pre­cious re­li­gious relic from their monastery on the Western coast of the is­land to Rome un­der pres­sure from an emis­sary of the pope, Brother Ger­al­dus (Stan­ley We­ber).

The relic is be­lieved to pos­sess great power to turn the tide of the Cru­sades in Jerusalem.

It comes down to a young novice, Diar­muid (Tom Hol­land) and a scarred, tat­tooed mute (Jon Bern­thal) who has ded­i­cated his life to serv­ing the monks, to pro­tect their cargo. His vi­o­lent past comes rush­ing back when the monks find them­selves fight­ing for their lives as Nor­man sol­diers clash with painted tribal war­riors for pos­ses­sion of the relic.

Shot in Con­nemara — a re­mote re­gion of western Ire­land — by cine­matog­ra­pher Tom Comer­ford, the coastal land­scape is stun­ningly beau­ti­ful.

We­ber’s wild-eyed per­for­mance as the fer­vent and fa­nat­i­cal Ger­al­dus drives home the ques­tion­able in­flu­ence of this relic. Though its pow­ers are merely sym­bolic, as­cribed to it by men, hu­man fear of and faith in this ar­ti­fact is enough to en­act its deadly toll.

“Pil­grim­age.” In English, Gaelic, French and Latin, with English sub­ti­tles. Not rated. Run­ning time: 1 hour, 36 min­utes. Play­ing: Laemmle Mon­ica.

Kris Dewitte

JON BERN­THAL plays the silent pro­tec­tor of a group of monks fer­ry­ing a pre­cious relic to safety.

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