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This film was a total surprise for me. I went to see it without any pre
conceived ideas; I had no clue what to expect. I based my decision on the
the strength of the cast here assembled. It proved me right, as this is a
movie that is very satisfying without being pretentious, or preachy.
It is, without a doubt, a major achievement for its director, Paul McGuigan. It probably would be intimidating to undertake a project of this magnitude and still bring together all the right elements to make this film enjoyable. The only sad part is that it seems this film is not getting its fair share the way it's being marketed, at least in this country.
Paul Bettany is amazing as the young priest who commits a terrible sin and has to leave the security of his church. He is fortunate to meet with the kind hearted Martin, and his troupe of players. William Dafoe is very good as the principal actor in this group. Brian Cox's role is brief, but he is very effective. Elvira Minguez has no dialogue at all, but her presence is crucial to the story and her Martha adds another layer to the story.
Despite the different acting styles and accents, the story keeps the viewer engrossed in the story. I do hope it will get the audience it sadly needs, for this is a much better film than the silly stuff being offered these days.
The Reckoning really is a medieval thriller. Most of the people you ask what do you expect from a medieval movie will tell you that they'll see a bunch of guys in metal armors with large swords beating the living daylight out of each other. The Reckoning is more like The Name Of The Rose (1986). All the `good' guys aren't goodie little two-shoes and all the bad guys aren't evil, malicious, arrogant royals with black hearts. There are a lot of similarities with In The Name Of The Rose (1986). A young runaway priest meets a group of actors, joins them and they set off for the nearest town. Upon arrival they witness the trial of a deaf-mute woman who supposedly killed a boy in a nearby woods. Driven by guilt (for setting a play with misinterpreted story) actors decide to take the case in their own hands and solve the murder. Cast is very good. Paul Bettany really is a good actor. He's come a long way since A Knight's Tale (2001) and A Beautiful Mind (2001). Willem Defoe is truly magnificent. He's one of those actors that can play any given part and in The Reckoning he plays the leader of the actors, with ideas way ahead of his time. Brian Cox although has little screen time cannot be unnoticed. Gina McKee sucks, and I don't know what is she doing in this movie. Probably the producers wanted a woman character in the story so writers made up Sarah. Blah. Vincent Cassel is excellent as a blue-blooded count. Not much lines dough. I strongly recommend this film, for it is one of the best thrillers that has appeared in a past few years. If you liked In The Name Of The Rose (1986), I think you'll love this film too. And vice versa.
I read the book first (Morality Play by W. Unsworth, very charming, with
sophisticated plot about almost philosophical issues of truth and its
interpretations) and then I found out there was a movie made according to
and allready re-run several times on the czech version of HBO TV channel.
I watched The Reckoning only few weeks ago and I think it is a very beautiful movie. Not that moving as it might have been, but beautiful to watch. Well, after a little dissappointment /movie's major issue and its somewhat morbid ending are VERY different from the book/. But only because I was expecting something.
The Reckoning catches - best of all "medieval" films I have seen - the atmosphere of medieval society, which seem so very oppressive to us, with its fears and firmly given orders and the necessity to belong somewhere, be a member of a defined group - or not to be. This is gloomy. The plot is not made exactly as a thriller - not much surprising. Its major point is, I gues, to make viewers feel, as if they were inside the story, could touch the real people. And the characters feel as real people, reserved towards strangers and not pretending warmth, when not feeling it.
It is played wonderfully. Bettany is amazing as melancholic hero-anti-hero, who sruggles with his fears and overcomes it, Dafoe is real master actor with slight tendencies to manipate the others, realistic but brave enough to join the desperate outcast and do something good and almost suicidal, Cox is down-to-earth old man, McKee is silent medieval woman with no voice within the group.And the major villain Cassel is a charismatic dictator-nihilist, who enjoys cat-mouse plays. See it while you can :-).
Nikolas (Paul Bettany) is a 14th (or so) century priest with a guilty
conscience. Guilty of adultery, he exiles himself to the countryside
and casts his lot with a group of itinerant theatrical players lead by
Martin (DaFoe). Though Nikolas has no discernible acting talent, the
troupe begins to grow attached to him, especially as he develops an
interest in the mystery of the disappearance and death of several young
boys in a small town the players have come to visit. Nikolas exhumes
the corpse, attracting the attention and ire of the local magistrate,
and discovers a cover-up and conspiracy which his conscience can not
allow to go unexposed. Since the courts, the local law enforcement, the
church and the local nobility will not listen, Nikolas must plead his
case to the citizenry. The troupe takes up the task using their well
This is a very clever, well written, very well filmed, carefully planned piece of historical fiction. The medieval period is portrayed with far greater accuracy and sensitivity than the usual contemporary film affords, though its cleanliness is a bit absurd, the set is magnificent and reminiscent of Herzog's talents in creating a historic context. The language of the film is also as authentic as it could be without resorting to archaic tongues few would understand. The acting is exceptional, though a couple of Bettany's soliloquies were a little predictably presented (he seems to do a lot of this sort of thing) with DaFoe and Gina McKee providing especially touching and intense performances.
The acting and strong script combine to make The Reckoning as good as a character study as it is as a dramatic mystery. It is not, however, a fast paced thriller and will undoubtedly disappoint those used to the style of mystery currently in vogue - that is guns-a-blazin' sex and violence-decorated kill-fests. If you're not in the mood for a slow-moving but intense film experience, avoid The Reckoning. If you want to be immersed in a different, but very real, world, and experience a contemporary issue through the eyes of those who live in that world, see it.
The Reckoning is a fantastic film that embraces all the aspects of a period piece, a drama, and a mystery. The plot is a beautiful mixture of good vs. evil, man vs. man, man vs. himself, and man vs. God. The younger style of Bettany mixed with the classic styles of Dafoe and Cox mirror the plot's various themes. Cinematography (not just what we see, but what the characters see) contributes tremendously to the heart of the story. The basis of the film, "The truth shall come to light," will leave you with a sense of needed self-discovery and/or reconciliation to a new breed of life. I hope all who see this work of art will experience, as displayed in the film, a "Reckoning" of their own.
A gem of a film. Artistic without being pretentious, moving without
being cliché. Paul Bettany is completely believable as a tormented
priest, Willem Dafoe is as always intense and a joy to watch. The movie
takes place in the dark ages mostly in a small outpost in the English
countryside. A woman is wrongly accused of murder and a traveling
troupe of actors, lead by Dafoe, enters the town and becomes involved
in clearing her name of the accusation.
I was most impressed with the set they used for the village, it's incredible. The set immerses you in the desperate and dramatic feel of the film properly. The film has an authentic theatrical feel to it. More like it's being acted on stage rather than on location. I recommend this well acted tale.
The yarn talks upon a priest (Paul Bettany) who is joined with a
comedian actors troupe (Willem Dafoe, Gina McKee, Brian Cox , among
others). They will arrive in a village with a rousing castle ruled by a
tyrant (Vincent Cassel). There happens one murder and is framed a
deaf-mute woman (Elvira Minguez). The priest discovers the killing has
occurred and attempt to solve it by recreating the crime in a play .
The film deals with Dark Ages , it's time of destruction , hunger, deceases and rampage . It's developed in 14th century , England , during King Richard's time , the Normans vanquished Saxons . War and pest originated millions of deaths . The story mingles medieval set , drama, suspense , sexual situations , a love story and is entertaining enough . The motion picture was in great majority directed in Spain (Andalucia) and has breathtaking scenarios . The movie obtained a limited success , in the United States got a resounding flop and achieved a lukewarm reception by the public ; however Europe attained more box office because is a European film more than American . The picture gets a certain resemblance to ¨The name of the rose¨ , thus the Medieval time , suspense , thrills and intrigue about killing . The main actors are very well , Paul Bettany and Willem Dafoe's interpretations are top notch likeness to support cast as Brian Cox, Ewen Bremmer, James Cosmo, Matthew Mac Fadden , all of them are outstanding . Cinematography by Peter Soba is magnificent and Mark Mancina's musical score is atmospheric . The movie is correctly directed by Paul McGuigan.
Rating : Good. Well worth watching.
I've watched this movie 4 times in the last three days, and I'm still not sure I've grokked all of its subtleties yet. Beautiful, yes -- the village set is a series of enclosures, mazes within mazes, that contribute to the entrapped mood surrounding the characters. Even in the scenes outside the village, the woods and hills close in around the actors, like the enfolding wings and backdrops of a stage. The closeups are unsettlingly revealing - filthy fingers with smooth nails using a sharp, rough flint to cut hair down to the scalp....dark eyes revealing everything and nothing....a hand laid caressingly near the jugular....strong fingers....and Paul Bettany's disturbing blue eyes. I can't say enough about Bettany's take on the outcast priest -- he manages moral outrage and submissive pathos with equal ease, and his smiles always have a hint of tears behind them. A haunting performance -- I would go across the world to see Bettany play Hamlet or Macbeth.
There were several reasons why I was looking forward to seeing this movie: 1) An appealing genre: It was said to be a movie in the class of 'The Name of the Rose', which is great, 2) an appealing plot, 3) an appealing trailer, which is just mesmerizing, and 4) an appealing cast, with actors such as Bettany, Dafoe and Cassel. I did find it both entertaining and including much of the right, somber mood, but still it missed something as a movie. It was just not convincing enough. I had a strong feeling that quite a few of the actors didn't fit their characters, I didn't feel anything about the characters as a spectator, the setting wasn't authentic enough, and the dramatic development was rather weak. It started out very promising, but somehow it never came to its right. But what I really enjoyed about this movie was that it was a great tribute to the art of acting. Moreover, there are great costumes and music. Actually, I would have preferred it to be a (traveling) play rather than a movie... :-) However, Paul Bettany freaks (like me) should absolutely not miss it.
Director Paul McGuigan gathers a team of excellent actors in this medieval mystery drama. This is not an easy genre, although there are excellent books to start from and at least one film to remember, 'The Name of the Rose' that was a great success a couple of decades ago. In 'Reckoning' the staging of the action is very good, the characters are strong and credible, and the atmosphere of the time - 14th century England - makes it to the screen. The story of an ex-priest joining a group of actors who get involved in a crime and wrong justice story in a village they perform is quite interesting, at least at the beginning. Paul Bettamy and William Defoe give good performances, and the rest of the team is not far behind. The problem is with the story - it starts well leading to a theater in movie scene which is the key of the whole movie. The mistake in the script is that this scene comes too early, and the rest of the story is too easy to predict and not interesting enough. I lost interest in the second half, and it looked like the director also ran out of ideas, most of the best visuals are in the first half, the second just repeats what we saw in the first and in many other films. Overall a movie above average, 7 out of 10 on my personal scale.
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