Stars: Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ariane Labed, Denis Ménochet, Ryan Corr, Tahar Rahim, Charles Babalola, Hadas Yaron, Tsahi Halevi, Shira Haas, Uri Gavriel, , Tchéky Karyo.
Director: Garth Davis
Screenplay: Helen Edmundson & Philippa Goslett.
Mary Magdalene. A reflection of the struggle of being a woman in any time. A woman wanting, needing a life that is not defined by what her father, brother's or village expects of her. A woman deemed to have a demon inside her because she needs more than the predestined life she has been dealt. A man comes to her village where his sermons express her deepest needs that leads her to becoming one of the most talked about women of all time.
Rooney Mara is sublime with her subdued portrayal of Mary Magdalene. Her grace, poise, thoughtful gaze move the first act forward— through her strength and power of her skills as a caring part of her community, helping her sister through the delivery of her son, fixing fishing nets. The representation of Mary through her communal work with the women of Magdalene captivating and truely pleasant to view the world through women's work. The first act is where we learn to care for Mary and that helps us follow her into the life she was destined for.
The film is beyond beautiful. I felt that this film was able to place you back in time when this story first was told. For the first time I felt that I was there when Jesus walked the earth. The place feels more real than other depictions of the time. I believe this comes down to the use of real tones, the grey and dull greens of the area rather than the usual gold of classic biblical tales. The minimal textures and colours of Mary's attire really pulls you into the realities of the time.
Phoenix playing Jesus of Nazareth is an interesting choice which mostly works. There is a serene calm and sadness in his performance which works well off Mara's Mary. Ejiofor playing Peter is a powerful performance that allows you to understand the struggle of following Jesus's teachings of love and peace and trying to use them to create a revolution.
The first act is its strongest with Mary in Magdalene. The next two acts with Jesus feels a little bit by the numbers following his journey to Jerusalem. In a way, Jesus could have played a smaller role which could have kept the main focus on our protagonist, but then again it is Jesus so it is hard not to focus on such an important man.