Mary Magdalene (2018)
User ReviewsReview this title
It is strange that this idea could put a bad taste into someones mouth- that it is OUR responsibility to save the world - pretty much the opposite message of "sola fide" - the doctrine introduced by the Lutheran church that it is only through faith in the divinity of Jesus alone and not through works we achieve "salvation". Centuries of self-identified "Christians" with no real love of peace, truth or compassion at the helm of the West and look where it has gotten us... millions of Christians await Christ's return yet make no serious effort to live by Christ's teachings. That is the sore thumb and the tragedy of many of the efforts of modern evangelists
Ironically, a movie that is supposed to be about Mary Magdalene is the best cinematic telling of the Jesus story that I have seen - it takes care to communicate understandably how Jesus's real teachings could become skewed by disciples who had their own ideas about the way they thought things should be, or would prefer them to be. They helped create in their folly a system of belief which removes personal responsibility and promotes complacent self righteousness in apathy which seems so common today.
The message of personal responsibility is so crucial in these times when it feels like the world is speeding ever so quickly towards irreversible change - where that change is directed is up to us and if we are all sitting on our thumbs we may neglect our own responsibility and contributions in the matter. That someone could be made angry or put off by this idea seems incomprehensible to me
I have never seen so much effort into telling the story of Jesus in the most accurate way possible. The movie is filled with its historic background. From its pace to its cinematography. To me, that is the effect seen from much research. This team was not worried about pleasing this or that crowd as they were with what they found out and what they interpreted throughout the process. There's a great unity in this work, which is rare to find. This same outlook permeates the whole movie and the cast.
It took guts to make something made so mystical over the years to be something human, possible, close. From being accurate on the cultural influence on everything that Jesus did or talked about to showing the almost zero impact he had on society of the time. To showing the simplicity of the traveling and eating of the group, to showing the big influence a woman had on the story that unfolded.
An outstanding movie that captured the essence of Chistianity. Because of that, there's a big chance of it being forgotten, ignored and misinterpreted, just like the real story and the real characters.
The healer is Jesus and later Mary goes to see him preach and heal. When he restores a blind man's sight he is overwhelmed by the demanding crowd. In the background, Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor) baptises people in the sea. Against her family's wishes Mary becomes a follower of Jesus and is baptised by him. They go on to Cana where Jesus preaches to women and Mary baptises them and some become followers. Peter is none too happy at this usurpation of his role.
This retelling of the Gospel stories is based on verses which suggest Mary was an Apostle and that other women were part of Jesus's broader following. In 2016 the Roman Catholic Church declared Mary was the Apostle of the Apostle and not a prostitute as the misogynist Pope Gregory had declared in 591.
There isn't a suggestion of a sexual relationship between the Magdalene and Jesus in this film, rather that she was the Apostle he dearly loved. The other Apostles have different views of what the mission of Jesus will result in: Peter is a zealot who hopes that the presence of Jesus in Jerusalem will result in an uprising and the driving out of the Romans. Judas believes that the dead will rise in the new Kingdom and he will be reunited with his dead wife and child.
Phoenix looks very much a Western Jesus but his worn countenance is that of an austere Essene. He foresees his own end, when he cures the afflicted or raises the dead he is physically and mentally drained. When he reaches the Temple he doesn't drive out the money-changers, instead he attacks the priests who are selling animals for sacrifice, Phoenix exudes righteous anger. Mara is quiet but intense, it is more difficult fora woman to take a leading role as an Apostle but Rooney convinces in this role.
In particular cinematographer Greg Fraser makes great use of shadow and fires, the flames being reminiscent of how Jules Breton brought blazes to life in his paintings. The screenplay by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett (no crdits for Matthew Mark, Luke and John) is revisionist in the best sense of the word. Garth Davis as director has put together a new narrative of the Nazarene and Magdalene which won't be to everyone's taste but even an agnostic can find it enthralling. 8.5/10.
Don't get me wrong, actors act and play people who are not them, so I don't cave to this nonsense. But it did stand out that all the characters wer western, even the extras virtually.
So yeas, basically about five seminal moments from the Jesus story, blind man made to see, Lazarus raised from the dead, last supper, betrayed with a kiss, crucified and saw in the garden at gethsemane....that's the Jesus story, we all know that... in between you would have thought they would've kind of created at least some interesting stuf about Mary Magdalene ? You'd have thought. No 5his one dimensional, "I will be faithfully by your side" character basically opposes any credit they had at women's individuality as she follows Jesus around like a sheep, listening to him whine about his lot in life...I wouldn't want hang around with him for ten minutes, let alone follow him and launch a new era of religious doctrine. The only really information that developed MM in any way was at the end, after the film, where it does the what happened next text on screen, where it tells us that MM was recognised by the Vatican as an apostle recently and not as the whore she is popularly credited as, as that now becomes documentary evidence that she or any of the others even existed.
There is so much interesting and great esoteric concepts in many books about MM that could've at least been posed...but they left this all out for a boring film discussing the most boring in between gaps of the key points of Jesus story mentioned above that without that context could've easily been about Brian, or any other prophet wandering around "Ireland" 2000 years ago...I can't be bothered looking where it was filmed, but Blackpool beach would've been more convincing.
Nothing, but nothing interesting or new, or dynamic about this film. It's quite possibly the dullest film ever made.
'Mary Magdalene' turned out to be a disappointment and didn't really connect with me. For me, it is a difficult film to rate and review with obvious strengths and even more obvious problems. Can totally see the divisive reactions, why the rating here is not great, why it's garnered a lot of hate or mixed feelings here (as well the odd positivity) and why the critical reception was average, things that also made me apprehensive seeing the film.
Starting with the strengths, 'Mary Magdalene' on the most part looks wonderful. It's beautifully shot and has production design and costumes that are like looking at a painting. The music added a good deal to the atmosphere, with haunting moments and providing an emotional resonance that was not there elsewhere.
Rooney Mara is an expressive and affecting Mary, and while Joaquin Phoenix was a strange choice for Jesus his portrayal is both touching and intense. Chiwetel Ejiofor and particularly Tahar Rahim provide strong supporting turns. There are a few interesting ideas, like the betrayal by Judas.
However, there is not much new or illuminating here, even approaching the subject from a different viewpoint, and found myself never connecting with it emotionally. On that front 'Mary Magdalene' was a pretty cold and passionless experience.
A feeling that was further accentuated by rambling writing, curiously lethargic direction and a very elephantine pace where a lot of the film drags and feels self-indulgent. The ending was rushed, just as problematic when that is the point of the film where the emotion and passion should be strongest. The editing tended to be choppy, almost like there was more to the film that was cut down.
In summary, beautiful to look at and more than competently acted, but lacking emotional or dramatic impact and illuminating ideas and very dull. 5/10 Bethany Cox
Guess which one this is.
I think the film is OK. The slow parts drag and there are only so many melancholic stares you can endure before you go: "Come on, guys. I get it". It's supposed to a realistic approach. You hear the sounds of nature and the breeze of the wind as you wander the fields with short grass. All of that is nice. But it's constantly dramatic and quiet. I wanted to see some more kindness and optimism to show us more nuances from the characters. You've seen the Jesus story be told many times and here's another one. It's not bad, but it lacked a special punch of uniqueness. I think "Last Days in the Desert" handled the quiet melancholic version of the tale better. This is not a bad attempt, but more of an underwhelming one. It's beautiful to look at and you have nice people who you follow. But it leaves you feeling more empty than you should. I respect what Mary Magdalene did and I'm happy I got to understand her perspective. But I don't think I ever have to see this entire movie again. Only recommended to loyal fans of the people involved making the film and those who are interested in the different adaptations the Jesus story.