Movie Reviews

Pilgrimage – A Decent and Well-Executed Adventure Film (Early Review)

We’ve seen Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal before but we haven’t quite seen them like this.

Synopsis: In 13th century Ireland a group of monks must escort a sacred relic across an Irish landscape fraught with peril. (Search Engine Films)

Starring: Tom Holland, Richard Armitage, Jon Bernthal

Writer: Jamie Hannigan

Director: Brendan Muldowney

Rating: 18A (Canada)

Running Time: 96mins

Trailer: 

For showtimes and more, check out on Pilgrimage movietimes.com.

Watching this film, you’ll think it had a bigger budget than what it had. The filmmakers here definitely did a great job with what they had, creating a film that was epic in feel. This wasn’t exactly hard to do, however, as they had to beautiful Irish countryside to work with but all that only goes so far. The film follows around a group of monks in the early 1200s on a mission across Ireland to deliver an ancient relic to the church in Rome. The monks run into a group of Normans who decide to join them in their quest but they, of course, are not quite as they seem.

This group of monks, including their youngest member Brother Diarmuid (Holland), were okay to watch although the problem with that was that it was difficult to care about any of the characters or what was happening to them. This was because the film did a poor job at establishing the characters or the setting. Being a historical film, it does start and end with some text but the historical backstory was a little too convoluted to follow. Those with more knowledge of the backstory will probably not mind this. In essence, it was an adventure film and this was still enough to get behind.

It was clear that the film wanted us to focus on Diarmuid (not just because Holland had top billing). At least he, along with a mute (Bernthal), were the only interesting characters. Diarmuid was the youngest so this was his first journey into the world so this was a learning experience for him. The film hinted at the mute’s troubled past but never really went into it because the monks never did either. This loomed over him throughout and added some context to the character. He and Diarmuid were close and their relationship was compelling to watch.

The film’s main villain was the son of the leader of the Normans, Raymond De Merville (Armitage). The monks had to face some form of opposition during their quest but De Merville’s motivations were not the most clear which took away from this part of the story. He was menacing but we never got the sense that they were ever in that much danger. They did have their brushes with danger and some may be surprised by how brutal it all ways, however, it fit with the film’s realism in its depiction of the setting and time period.

The acting was good all around with Holland and Bernthal being the standouts. The relationship between Diarmuid and the mute was the best part of the film and it would not have worked without their great chemistry. Holland was great as the young monk whose beliefs are challenged during their journey. Bernthal was equally as impressive in a very challenging role. He had no dialogue but he still managed to convey so much emotion in his performance. Once his character was needed in more of a physical role, he was up to the challenge as well. Armitage was okay although it was hard to take him seriously as the villain. It must be noted that Holland and Armitage had to learn both Gaelic and French respectively for their roles.

Overall, this was a good, well-executed adventure film with some good performances but the mildly convoluted story and uninteresting characters make it difficult to get around. Those with more knowledge of the film’s backstory may find more enjoyment.

Score: 7.5/10

*Pilgrimage will be released on iTunes on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017*

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