Film Review: Mary Magdalene

Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene offers good performances and a mesmeric feel. Despite its efforts however, the film does not distinguish itself fully from other biblical epics.

Mary Magdalene is due to be married to a suitor, on the wishes of her family. However, Mary is searching for something more. When Jesus of Nazareth visits her village, she feels compelled to join his movement…

The story of Jesus has been told on film numerous times. Director Garth Davis’ film offers a different take on this, viewing the well-known events through a hitherto peripheral character. The film tells the familiar story, but also tells the story of Mary Magdalene. A character that has been given a particular representation in the mainstream, the film offers a differing perspective.

The narrative begins by concentrating on Mary’s circumstances; her first contact with Jesus does not come until after the title character has been established. After Mary joins Jesus’ band of followers, the story becomes much more familiar. Even in these events, much of what is seen is from the perspective of the title character. It is uncertain whether Mary Magdalene was as involved in all these key moments as the film suggests, yet writers Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett clearly wish to emphasise her importance.

Mary Magdalene has a mesmeric quality to it. The film feels more pensive than other biblical epics, with a higher focus on spirituality. This comes through thanks to the protagonist and following her spiritual journey, as well as her interpretation of Jesus’ teachings. The contrast between Mary’s understanding and that of some of the other apostles seems to mirror some of the divides in contemporary Christianity.

Rooney Mara delivers a believable performance as the title character. Joaquin Phoenix is convincingly cast as Jesus, he offers a charisma which seems suitable for the character. Tahir Rahim is suitably zealous in his role. Mary Magdalene is at its most interesting when it focuses on its title character. In telling the story of the Crucifixion, the film feels too much like the numerous other adaptions of this tale.

Previews: On Chesil Beach Trailer, Death Wish, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview attractions, including the new Yardie trailer, Death Wish, Yardie, and more…

On Chesil Beach Trailer

Here is the latest On Chesil Beach trailer. Based on the novel by Ian McEwan (with a screenplay also written by McEwan), On Chesil Beach is about a young couple’s wedding day in the early 1960s. The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, and Anne-Marie Duff. On Chesil Beach will be released on 15th June 2017.

Yardie Trailer

Above is the trailer for Idris Elba’s directorial debut Yardie. Set in 1970s Kingston and 1980s Hackney, the film tells the story of a young man who grows up under the wing of a Kingston don and music producer. Starring Aml Ameen, Sheldon Shepherd, and Shantol Jackson, Yardie will be released later this year.

Death Wish Poster

Here is one of the new poster for Death Wish. The new Eli Roth movie is a reimagining of the 1974 film. The film stars Bruce Willis as a surgeon who is confronted by violence when his family are attacked. Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Elisabeth Shue, Death Wish will hit UK screens on 6th April 2018.

A Gentle Creation Trailer

Here is the trailer for the Palme d’Or nominated A Gentle Creature. Directed by Sergei Loznitsa, the film is about a woman with an incarcerated husband. When her parcel to him is returned, she begins on a quest for justice. A Gentle Creature will be released in UK cinemas on 13th April 2018.

A Quiet Place Featurette

John Krasinski explains a little about the concept of A Quiet Place in the above featurette. Directed, co-written, and starring Krasinski, the horror is about a family who must stay quiet in order to evade detection. Co-starring John Krasinski’s wife Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place will hit the big screen later this year.

Mary Magdelene Trailer

Mary Magdalene is a biblical biopic. The film tells the story of the title character as she meets Jesus of Nazareth. Rooney Mara plays Mary, with Joaquin Phoenix playing Jesus. The film also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim. Directed by Garth Davis, Mary Magdalene is out in UK cinemas on 16th March 2018.

LFF 2016 Highlights Part 2

The BFI London Film Festival has come to a close after another year of some striking and wonderful films. Some brilliant films have already screened in the first week. Here is part 2 of the LFF 2016 highlights…

LFF 2016 Unmissable

Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a sumptuous and tense film. The director keeps viewers captivated throughout. Ford’s wonderful directorial debut A Single Man would have many keen to know what he would do next in the cinematic sphere. Despite the recess, this sophomore picture does not disappoint. READ MORE

Brimstone

Martin Koolhoven’s film is unrelenting and unforgiving. Brimstone can be difficult to watch, but it enthrals nevertheless. Brutish and bruising, Brimstone is a thriller that does not know when to quit. But make no mistake, this is a good thing. READ MORE

Lion

Lion

Garth Davis’ Lion is a genuinely emotional drama with great performances from its cast. Lion is an affirming story which does not shy away from some harsh realities. A fantastic watch. READ MORE

LFF 2016 Best of the Rest

Elle

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle absorbs, entertains, and intrigues. After a lengthy break, Verhoeven reminds viewers exactly why he is a great filmmaker. Based on the novel by Philippe Dijan, Elle is a curious and rewarding feature. READ MORE

Free Fire

After the disappointing High-Rise, Ben Wheatley impresses with Free Fire. The film is contagiously fun. Writer-director Ben Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump have created a very entertaining film with Free Fire. READ MORE

Prevenge

Prevenge

Alice Lowe’s black comedy Prevenge is a fun watch. A quirky premise is transformed into an entertaining film. Writer, director, and star Alice Lowe has created an off-the-wall dark comedy with Prevenge. The premise is original and amusing, and the film itself follows suit. READ MORE

Lake Bodom (Bodom)

Lake Bodom (Bodom) is a very entertaining horror-thriller. The film defies expectations, in a tantalising way. Director and co-writer Taneli Mustonen has created an interesting horror thriller with Lake Bodom. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 5th-16th October 2016.

Film Review: Lion

Lion

Garth Davis’ Lion is a genuinely emotional drama with great performances from its cast.

After becoming separated from his older brother, Saroo finds himself alone on the streets of Calcutta. Dodging the danger all around him, Saroo is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Years later, Saroo hopes to track down the family he was separated from…

Based on Saroo Brierley’s book about his experiences, Lion is formidable drama. Director Garth Davis handles his subject deftly. The film does not fall into the trap of sentimental, TV-movie style melodrama. Given the narrative, this could easily have happened. Instead, Davis gives Saroo’s story the weight and passion that it deserves.

Lion does not jump to Saroo as an adult, after a brief introduction. Instead, the film fully explores what Saroo goes through as a lost child. These events are given the time they deserve, and emphasise what a difficult journey he goes through. In a wider scale, these sequences uncover the perilous realities of street children in India.

Scenes later in the film exhibit the comfortable life Saroo lives as an adult. These serve as a stark contrast to his early experiences. Lion exhibits Saroo’s discomfort with his privilege, when considering his early years. His adoptive brother Mantosh functions to reveal the other side of international adoption. This character immediately struggles, and ultimately leads a troubled life. His ticks hark back to what is seen in the classroom, hinting at a sad underlying cause.

Saroo’s relationship with his girlfriend and family is impacted by his strong desire to find his home. The journey of the protagonist is depicted with thoughtfulness. Lion is emotional with good reason; it never feels overwrought. The film is beautifully shot, and the score complements the visuals well. Dev Patel offers a endearing performance as Saroo, whilst Sunny Pawar is appealing as the young version of the character. Nicole Kidman reminds viewers why she is such a successful actress with one scene in particular.

Lion is an affirming story which does not shy away from some harsh realities. A fantastic watch.

Lion is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.