Spiritual, stunning and performances to match.
Mary Magdalene is a movie that won't be too appealing to the masses unless you're religious or spiritual, but with Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix on board and Garth Davis (Lion) as director, there is one reason to watch but it sure shouldn’t be the only one because even if you aren’t religious, you could still be left stunned by its beauty.
Set in Judea, 33 A.D. Garth Davis tells the story of Mary Magdalene (Rooney Mara), unsure of her destiny and unwilling to adhere to the traditions her family live by (including arranged marriage).
She meets a healer named Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix), who is beginning to gain a large following due to his speeches about a kingdom of peace – free of hate and his ability to heal the sick and return the dead to life. Taken back by his words and actions, she decides to join Jesus and his twelve followers on a journey to Jerusalem, where her life will be altered forever.
If the viewers are expecting something similar to The Passion of the Christ will be disappointed because the story is not about Jesus, although he plays an integral part, but more about the journey of Mary Magdalene's independence.
Director Garth Davis, who previously helmed the critically acclaimed and Oscar-nominated Lion, along with receiving an Emmy nomination for the television series Top of the Lake, proves once again the ability to tell a story with a beautiful backdrop. He did that with Lion and setting it in India and the same with Top of the Lake, using the mountains of New Zealand, and he does it again here, with the historical backdrops of Italy – absolutely beautiful landscapes.
Performances. Every single performer from the main stars, down to the extras, all had a big role to play and they do it perfectly.
Rooney Mara, fresh off the amazing A Ghost Story, displays a lot of strength, endurance, and sensitivity to the title role. It's her journey we follow, we are with her every step of the way and that was a fantastic choice. There are plenty of movies out there about Jesus, but a film told through the eyes of Mary Magdalene is genius and I’m grateful that Rooney Mara performed admirably.
Now onto Jesus himself, Joaquin Phoenix. Playing Jesus is always going to be a lot of pressure, but Joaquin does the character justice. I admit being hesitant initially, but he grows on you. Joaquin brings elegance, charisma, confidence, spirituality, and quietness to the role. Whenever he appears on screen, I was in awe. Kudos to Joaquin.
The supporting cast is just as important. Tahir Rahim as Judas and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Peter, particularly but the rest of the disciples prove to be just as integral to the story.
The soundtrack. My God, it’s something to behold. Jóhann Jóhannsson (in his final film before his death) and Hildur Guðnadóttir team up again to produce a wonderful soundtrack. They say the score is another character in a movie – they are so right. It adds to the ambiance and beauty of the film.
Ignore the negative reviews, I honestly don't understand them. Mary Magdalene might be too slow for some, but amazing to others; I fall into the latter category.
Not much else to say except you'll be pleasantly surprised and amazed. Highly recommended.