Some movies slip through the cracks and into obscurity completely unjustly. Pilgrimage is an intelligent, immersive, and gritty medieval adventure set in Ireland. We will be following a group of monks, wait, I should stop right here. Mostly because I want you to just dive into this one without any prior knowledge. Let’s just say that instead of Pilgrimage they should’ve called the movie The Lord of The Monks. After all, Richard Armitage, who played Thorin in The Hobbit, is in one of the lead roles. And he’s speaking French, mon dieu! He’s not the only big name here as we have both Tom Holland and Jon Bernthal.
However, the cast would not be complete without the charismatic Irish actor John Lynch. You might remember him from such movies as Hardware, Isolation, and Boys From County Hell. His performance here was extraordinary. Pilgrimage is one of those movies that grip you from the start. You’re instantly transported to an 11th-century Ireland with those green hills and misty meadows calling to you. The story seems rather simple at first but as time goes on it becomes more and more complex. The same goes for the script, offering thought-provoking insights into medieval life and religion.
So, I guess now is as good a time as any to talk about the elephant in the room. You can see its trunk in the title of this movie. As you rightly concluded, Pilgrimage is a religiously-themed movie. However, it’s a movie for both believers and atheists. As an atheist myself, I can attest to that fact. Actually, you might argue that it leans in favor of the non-believer side although I think we do not need to go that far. The most important thing is that everybody can watch and enjoy this movie regardless of their religious or any other convictions. It is that fucking good.
The characters are well-developed and the conversations they lead are not just insightful but also realistic. And on top of that, they will be in English, Irish Gaelic, French, and Latin. Don’t worry, there will be subtitles available for these relatively small sections. The atmosphere is quite gloomy and foreboding. It’s like that damned dampness started spreading through the screen and into my room. That’s what I’ve been talking about when I said that this is an immersive experience. Pilgrimage also manages to maintain tension throughout its relatively short runtime of 90 minutes.
It’s one of those hidden gems featuring an unusual story and setting that feel very refreshing. It reminds me of another highly underrated Irish period movie Black ’47. Although in terms of the story, it’s much more similar to The Eagle or Centurion. I keep thinking how this movie offers not only a satisfying quest-like odyssey but also a thought-provoking intellectual journey. It also provides us with an account of how life was back then. I mean, during the opening scene we see Brother Diarmuid, played by Tom Holland, catching some tubular worms on the beach.
I hope he was using them as bait to catch fish and not as food. Finally, I just want to add that there will be violence in this movie. The action scenes are actually quite brutal and there are several of them. This is, again, in line with how life was back then, oftentimes short and violent.
Director: Brendan Muldowney
Writer: Jamie Hannigan
Cast: Tom Holland, Richard Armitage, Jon Bernthal, John Lynch, Stanley Weber, Hugh O’Conor
Fun Facts: Despite the events portrated in this movie, it is believed that St Matthias died of old age in Jerusalem.