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  1. Published on: 20/03/2018 12:38 PMReported by: Film Critic
    Plot: The story Jesus' first and most well-known female follower.

    Even though I'm not a religious person, I am always intrigued with films about it.

    I love the biblical epics of the golden era such as Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments. Major studios heavily invested in those stories back in the day, and they certainly did not spare any expense in every department.

    These days, they are rarely seen and not many work well with audiences and critics. I feel The Passion Of The Christ is probably the last great success within this sub-genre in terms of box-office. As for the quality of the film, I admired its risky and bloody approach to it and thought it admirable enough to be solid viewing.

    This latest release is directed by Garth Davis, whose previous film was his debut with the terrific and Oscar-nominated Lion. As soon as I saw Lion, I was up for anything this director would make and I had pretty decent expectations for this, with the high-quality cast also being an influence.

    While I did feel somewhat disappointed by it, there are many things like in various departments. From the start, you can tell that it's beautifully shot with some striking and very believable choices of locations. The pacing is slow, but quite rewarding in chunks.

    I gradually got swept away in the world you are transported to, and got invested in a few strong scenes that are both intense and heartfelt.

    I thought the performances were fairly good all-round. Rooney Mara for me is still bringing out the best of her abilities as the title character. Since her breakthrough role in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in 2011, Mara has gone from strength to strength. However for me, I only really got captivated in her talent in 2015's Carol where herself and Cate Blanchett both had powerful performances. Then I felt her beautiful screen presence in the weirdly wonderful A Ghost Story last year. Now, I feel I can love anything she does now, and I felt this one to be another solid addition. I felt she tackled the role and gave us a strong female character.

    Joaquin Phoenix gave us an interesting portrayal of Jesus. I have always been intrigued in Phoenix's methods in various stages of his career and I felt he did a good job in this one. He certainly gave us that air of mystery around his character and certainly made me invested during any time he was on screen.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor was a bit disappointing, in sense of me expecting more from someone of his stature. His performance his fine. But giving what he has done recently, you naturally have fairly high expectations for him.

    It was to see Tahar Rahim do well in this one. I only remember him being the leading role in the really good 'A Prophet' from 2009. I felt he was the best and only memorable performance from the supporting roles.

    As mentioned before, the cinematography and choice of locations were very good. It is entirely filmed in the mountains in southern Italy, and it is wonderful to look at and really added to the time period. So from a technical perspective, it's quite strong.

    The score by Hildur Gudnadottir and Johan Johansson really enhances its more memorable scenes really well. I must mention that this Johansson's last piece of work as he suddenly passed away just over a month ago. It is a sad loss as he was only 48. He should be remembered fondly for his works on films such as The Theory Of Everything and Arrival.

    I think the only notable weaknesses was maybe the story-telling, as it did seem to lack the impact you might expect from it. The pacing is slow, and the flow just prevents it from being a great piece of work.

    But on the whole, I thought this was a solid attempt of showing a famous story told from a different perspective. There are moments of high profoundness, even though it does not quite have the impact that it is trying to have.

    It's shot beautifully, it makes great use of the landscape and the performances all work to a satisfactory level. I can't see myself remember this for too long after seeing it. But I still think it is worthy addition to the religion film genre and is probably one of the best in recent years.

    Rating: 7/10
     

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