MARY MAGDALENE (M)
SPIRIT IS WILLING, BUT THE FILM IS WEAK, UKAUSTRALIA, 120 MIN For reasons too political, theological and just plain mean to go into here, a Jewish woman known as Mary of Magdala has had her good name cop a bad rap in the history books for over 2000 years. While this movie does a fine job of defining Mary’s motives as she moved through the inner circle of Jesus Christ, it is also a religious drama so dour and dreary that you start wondering if there is a God. Mary is played with a bare minimum of expression and an unfeasible number of wistful stares into the distance by Rooney Mara. There are a handful of scenes where Mara is able to convey the questing intellect and deep conviction of her character, which raises the suspicion that the sparse screenplay has been too stripped back in certain sections. Not sure what some devout viewers will make of Joaquin Phoenix here, who plays Jesus as a cross between The Dude from
The Big Lebowski and a guy who enjoys starting conversations with strangers on public transport. Directed by Garth Davis ( Lion).