Mary Magdalene by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett
If critics and audiences are to be considered, this motion picture has failed to deliver a magnificent, wondrous entertaining, but this note would argue that although this is not the ultimate film about Mary Magdalene or Jesus, it is a worthwhile work and it brings to the fore the figure of the saint ( was she? Perhaps).
There have been a myriad books, films, paintings, essays, sermons about the life of Jesus Christ, who is after all at the center of the faith of over one billion people on this planet, but much less about Mary Magdalene, the central character in this feature, which ends with an interesting explanation.
Scholars have analyzed and contradict the “old wives tale” that this fantastic Wonder Woman, one of the first Super Heroes, Ubermensch, was a prostitute, coming to the conclusion that she was actually a devoted disciple who supported Jesus financially and spiritually.
If only for bringing this fact forward and re-establishing – or at least helping to change the public image- the reputation of such a remarkable, extraordinary figure, this motion picture deserves more than attention, but respect as well.
It is also true that much of the dialogue cannot be admired as “so truthful” and surely the affirmation that she was the one who talked to Jesus after he has died – well, according to your belief or skepticism, he just went to another state of being- is at the very least controversial.
This viewer doubts that Jesus died and then came back to see this or any other human being or apostle, considering that the bible was written a long time after his death, the fact that much of what happened came through the ages as hearsay, one told the other and then it came down orally and inevitably distorted.
A major distraction is the actress chosen to portray Mary, for given the choice, one might have done better to select almost anyone else, from Sofia Vergara to Penelope Cruz, for Rooney Mara has an artificial, awkward, hard to believe, outré performance that detracts from the cinematic experience.
Then there is the similarly strange presence of Jesus aka Joaquin Phoenix who seems recently to have been immersed in an otherworldly perspective on acting, although he was so appreciated in You Were Never Here – therefore this not could well be so much off the track and wrong.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is much more believable as Peter, even if he must have been influenced by the sometimes-absurd reactions of the partners, with the exception of Tahar Rahim, an outstanding artist whose performance in Une Prophet will stay in the history of cinema.
Tahar Rahim has the difficult, sensitive role of Judas, who is as we know one of the apostles, but also one of the most – if not the most- reviled, despised figures in human history.
Enchanted, mesmerized by Jesus Christ, Judas wants the Messiah to save himself and therefore, when the healer, prophet, perhaps celebrated Son of God decides to put his life in real danger, the traitor takes action.
Only his “selling” of Jesus Christ for the infamous thirty pieces of silver – rendered extraordinarily in Jesus Christ Superstar among others – is seen from a different angle here – and elsewhere evidently.
Judas thinks that as a prisoner of the Romans, Jesus will be forced to take action, save his life and continue his work of magic, saving people like Lazarus – in a scene that can be appreciated or rejected, maybe in equal measure, Jesus touches the dead man and brings him to life.
This cinephile does not believe in the Bible, Resurrection, the apostles and the rest, hence the reluctance to take the events from this film with too much emotion and faith, which could have seriously impeded the ability to appreciate it fully.
On the other hand, the reception of this motion picture has been less than lukewarm.