Review

Medieval action film ‘Pilgrimage’ is beautifully shot, powerfully violent

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.

The year is 1209 and a group of 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, and has been a great danger for anyone who dares disturb it.

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. The mute’s violent past comes rushing back when the monks find themselves fighting for their lives as Norman soldiers, including a skeptical Sir Raymond (Richard Armitage), 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. Robed silhouettes make their way through woods and against the sea; sunlight filters through the trees, illuminating the generous blood spatter produced by broadswords, arrows and axes.

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.

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‘Pilgrimage’

In English, Gaelic, French and Latin, with English subtitles.

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Monica

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