Oh my! Watching Rev. week after week is increasingly traumatic, as Adam Smallbone, buffeted by the vicissitudes of life and his own weaknesses (namely, comely head teacher Ellie) begins to unravel.
He's sent to see the Bishop of London (Ralph Fiennes) who subjects him to a draconian punishment after the kiss-in-the-vestry incident. Soon Adam's world is shredded as he loses all grip on his beloved and doomed St Saviour's Church. He's even let down by the decrepit Colin (the marvellous Steve Evets) whose faithlessness puts Adam at the centre of a parish-wide scandal.
But in the midst of a meltdown, he meets a kindly stranger on a green hill far away...Alison Graham, Radio Times, 21st April 2014
The confidently sustained story, the build-up of emotional resonance and the parochial aspirationalism that characterise Cemetery Junction are all of a piece with the sitcom work of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
The film focuses on three pals entering adulthood in 1973 Reading: Bruce (Tom Hughes) is all swaggering bravado; Snork (Tom Doolan) is a clown; and apprentice insurance salesman Freddie (Christian Cooke) is knuckling down to a life of bourgeois comfort he hasn't quite sold himself on yet. He finds a kindred spirit in childhood crush Julie (Felicity Jones), whose slimy dad (Ralph Fiennes) and fiancé (Matthew Goode) - Freddie's boss and mentor at the insurance firm - have decidedly lower opinions of her potential. There are laughs, but this isn't quite a comedy.
The film often leans heavily enough on its models to feel formulaic, and its romances map too closely on to those of The Office. Overall, though, it's refreshing to see a mainstream British film with the ambition to strut its stuff on studio terms. Aspirational indeed.Ben Walters, Time Out, 5th January 2013
Gerard Butler has made some stinkers in his time (The Bounty Hunter, Phantom of the Opera and The Ugly Truth to name a few), but one role he did do rather well in was the muscle-bound comic adaptation 300. This makes his casting as Coriolanus's fearsome nemesis, Aufidius, in Ralph Fiennes's upcoming brutal film version of Shakespeare's play seem rather apt. Butler joins Graham Norton along with Doctor Who star Karen Gillan and Noel Gallagher - who also performs his new single.Catherine Gee, The Telegraph, 5th January 2012
Ralph Fiennes played the Bishop of London in the knockout opening of the wildly welcome return of Rev. Apparently real revs love Rev, as it makes them seem human. Tom Hollander again did just that, his face a perfect ever-changing landscape of very human conceits and contradictions and petty frustrations as he tries to be good. His Adam Smallbone struggled this week with the ethics of accepting a "hero" award for something he hadn't... exactly... done. At all. You truly felt for him; the church, his community, especially his wife, who wanted a new frock, were throatily urging him on, against his Christian (or simply human) instincts.
Watching his face as he was gently, subtly, quietly talked out of acceptance at the end by wise Bishop Fiennes was like watching an age-old battle, a Greek tragicomedy, the conflict between ego and honesty. Some of this is really beautiful. Other bits are just wise, funny, modern. Attempting to gee up sullen inner-city kids for a trip to the seaside, Adam asks, with eager innocence: "Now... how many of you have seen a cow?" All hands, of course, rise, in a chorus of boredom. Adam is relatively unfazed, but then furiously... fazed... at the paperwork, the CRB and health and safety forms needed to take to the seaside a bunch of children who virulently don't want to go. This is lovely.Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 13th November 2011
One of the pleasures of Rev (Thursday, BBC Two) is that its characters' foibles seem to have taken root quite naturally rather than being glued on in a scriptwriters' conference. Tom Hollander's Adam Smallbone may be hapless, but his haplessness comes in part from his constant wavering between conviction and doubt. Hailed as the "Kung-Fu Vicar" after an unheroic misunderstanding, Smallbone is advised to tell the truth by the Bishop of London (a balefully creepy Ralph Fiennes) - "You're going to have to tell the truth and that's when your courage will really be shown."
Sanctimonious piffle on the one hand, yet nothing in Rev is quite as simple as that. Smallbone, did, reluctantly, tell the truth, and was surprised to find himself feeling enriched as a result. This may not have lasted long, and flocks of unchristian thoughts may have come beating in its wake - but that, surely, is exactly how these things work.John Preston, The Telegraph, 12th November 2011
Rev is a much kinder comedy than Life's Too Short, and prompts a different kind of question, which is, how kind can a comedy get before it stops being funny? The success of the first series means that they can show off with a big-star cameo too; in this case, Ralph Fiennes, who did an eerily pious turn as the Bishop of London. Due to a misunderstanding, Adam finds himself up for a Pride of Britain Award he doesn't really deserve. With little more than a penetrating gaze of Christian understanding, the Bishop gets him to own up and forgo his moment in the limelight. It was a scene suffused with moral seriousness, but it didn't deliver a lot of laughs. The show is better (and more lovable) when it seems to celebrate human weakness. But then it's lovable enough itself to be forgiven the odd shortcoming.Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 11th November 2011
Rev is one of those rare beasts - a sitcom that actually gets funnier the better you know the characters. The first series took a bit of time to bed in, but the second hit the ground running. It opened with our inner-city vicar, Adam Smallbone, struggling to keep silent on a retreat - the first laugh came in under two minutes with Adam passing a nun and saying to himself, "Thank God I don't have to talk to her" before accidentally tripping up a mugger and getting lauded as a have-a-go hero.
Jokes aside, the joy of Rev lies in the characters. From Colin the drunk, through Alex the vicar's wife, to Robert the camp archdeacon, they all feel like people you might actually meet yourself. And would want to spend time with. The only slightly off note was Ralph Fiennes' cameo as the Bishop of London; but that was only because he seemed rather more in touch with normality than the real one. Quite deliberately, though, with little fanfare, Rev also gets to the heart of the modern church by exposing it as both a source of much goodness and a complete irrelevance. And that really is comic genius.John Crace, The Guardian, 10th November 2011