This weekend marks Spider-Man’s return to the big-screen, with Tom Holland in the titular role. However, before that, the young actor starred in period piece Pilgrimage, which screened at Edinburgh Film Festival last week.

There's something deftly fascinating to the story and the biblical lore that Pilgrimage offers up for us to eschew and mull over. The film opens in quite a brutal manner, with the very gory and harsh stoning of a man. And whilst it's perhaps not the best representation of the film’s palette, seeing as the action doesn't flow quite as what is perhaps teased from such an opening; there is certainly a plethora of visceral violence to be enjoyed, and it's great stuff to watch when it does unfold, but director Brendan Muldowney opts for using the more of the runtime to explore its characters, the 13th Century period, and more of the fascinating lore and beliefs involving the sought after sacred relic and the monks escorting it. It won't be for everyone, with a pensiveness and nuance that is certainly slower than anticipated but it’s some genuinely fascinating stuff.
The screenplay is utterly compelling and so astute in its writing. Thematically, Pilgrimage excels. It’s a story of conflicting morals and beliefs and the murky waters that separate the two; it’s also a story of unlikely heroes, bound by obligation, risking their lives for a this sought after relic because they're bound to do so by beliefs and the trepidations that lurk with such a task. Jon Bernthal plays a mute, and, despite not being able to convey any emotion through dialogue, this is such a charged performance. We can sense the torment within his eyes, and can feel it all the more as details of his past are teased throughout; his explosive outbursts of violence and rage make this disparate, fractured nature all the more apparent. Tom Holland stretches his acting muscles again too in what is perhaps a career defining role, even post-Spidey. Brother Diarmuid represents the innocuouty in this dark, blood-soaked era; he almost represents the viewer, with such a palpable na├»vety and fascination to the relic and morals, bringing the touch of levity the film sorely required. Richard Armitage, too, shines - in fact, Pilgrimage showcases a slew of great work from everyone involved.

The cinematography is gorgeous too, and Muldowney has honestly and believably recaptured the essence of 13th Century Ireland - from the costumes to the dialogue to the landscapes and everything, there is such an impressive attention to detail here that only strengthens the backbone of this film. Again, the action is used sparingly throughout but, when it unfolds, it’s gritty, visceral and truly blood-soaked in the best way. What lets the film down perhaps is a bit of tonal unbalance and an irreverence for any sense of urgency and emotion to the proceedings. However, at the end of the day, Pilgrimage is still a period piece worth visiting because it's truly terrific.

Pilgrimage is so rich in nuance and lore; it’s a gorgeous showcase of impressive work and one of the finest period pieces around.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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