Over the last few years, there has seemingly been a resurgence in the popularity of Biblical epics in Hollywood. For good reason of course, as religious tales filled with larger than life characters set in sweeping vistas are the stuff that Tinsel Town was built on. The latest high-profile Biblical movie, Mary Magdalene, is not quite that though. I think. It’s really kind of hard to figure out exactly what type of movie this is based on the first trailer which dropped recently.
Starring Rooney Mara as the titular New Testament follower of Jesus, Mary Magdalene seems poised to be a deep character study on one of the Bible’s most important female figures (she’s mentioned more in the Four Gospels than most of the apostles). Even the trailer tells you that this will be an “untold story”, as we see Mary posing hard questions to Jesus, played by Joaquin Phoenix. However, the trailer’s heavy-handed editing and surprisingly uplifting music over some very grim scenes seem to suggest it trying to lean more towards the lightweight faith-based films we regularly get that push mild melodrama and message over hard-hitting filmmaking.
Whatever type of film Mary Magdalene ends up being, it certainly boasts plenty of appealing star power. Alongside Oscar-winner Mara and Oscar-nominee Phoenix you also get another Oscar-nominee in Chiwetel Ejiofor as the apostle Paul, who does not approve of Jesus elevation of Mary Magdalene. That’s some serious acting talent there for a tale that on paper appears to be rife with strong dramatic potential. That’s if director Garth Davis can keep things steady and not as overwrought as this trailer gets in places. With six Oscar nominations for his debut feature film Lion (which also starred Mara) and tons of praise and awards for his directing work on TV series Top of the Lake, he’s definitely capable of making this a riveting tale.
Mary Magdalene is scheduled for release on 16 March 2018.
Set in the Holy Land in the first century C.E., a young woman leaves her small fishing village and traditional family behind to join a radical new social movement. At its head is a charismatic leader, Jesus of Nazareth, who promises that the world is changing. Mary is searching for a new way of living, and an authenticity that is denied her by the rigid hierarchies of the day. As the notoriety of the group spread and more are drawn to follow Jesus’ inspirational message, Mary’s spiritual journey places her at the heart of a story that will lead to the capital city of Jerusalem, where she must confront the reality of Jesus’ destiny and her own place within it.
Last Updated: December 1, 2017