Mary, here, is played by Rooney Mara, reuniting with Garth Davis, the Australian director of 2016’s Oscar nominee Lion. We begin with her day-to-day life, struggling to fit in and find peace within her family. So, when White-Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix) passes through her town with offerings of a better life, one dedicated to God, Mary joins them, leaving her past behind and traveling with Jesus and his disciples on a journey across-country. Together, they preach the word of God and form a connection Jesus hasn’t experienced before, and unfortunately, it’s… well… rather dull.
With films like Noah and The Last Temptation of Christ, new spins on these stories were presented, and while personally I enjoyed them both, the general consensus was… less than ordinary. Mary Magdalene does a bit of both. It stays faithful to the overall story beats while trying to subtly change certain elements in order to create a new perspective. So, in that regard, I respect what it tries to do. I like change (in cinema, at least). But Mary Magdalene, as a movie, is so fucking boring. It’s two hours of a brooding Jesus trying to overcome the burden that is being the Son of God, and it’s an interpretation that won’t always sit well with audiences.
If it proves anything, however, it’s that Garth Davis sure can direct. From a filmmaking standpoint, Mary Magdalene is beautiful. Greig Fraser’s cinematography is gorgeous. It may be considered a little too bleak for some, and that’s a fair complaint, but there are some all-timers on display here, and he remains one of the most underrated and best working cinematographers in the industry. But alas, the strong craftsmanship on display does little to win audiences over when the remainder of the film is a slow, boring and forgettable journey I’d struggle to recommend.
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