WITH Lion, director Garth Davis told the heart-wrenching true story of a child separated from his family who survives the streets of Kolkata to adjust to life with adoptive Tasmanian parents.
It is the kind of film people with the coldest soul would require a box of tissues to sit through.
Davis’ latest film, Mary Magdalene, is about the journey of one of Jesus’ followers who defied the domestic life mapped out for her by society.
Yet there is something important missing this time: emotion and connection.
Mary (Rooney Mara) spends her days working the land, nervously waiting for the day her family sets her up with a husband to start her life Garth Davis Rooney Mara, Joaquin Phoenix, Chiwetel Ejiofor from March 22 Julian Wright
of domesticity – something her sisters have already begun.
When Jesus (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives in town on foot, she sees hope for a different life for herself and turns her back on her family to accompany him on his trek to Jerusalem, but not before her family try to exorcise perceived demons from her body.
Davis’ deliberately quiet and restrained take on Mary’s story aims for poetic imagery and moments of reflection. There are plenty of dialogueless shots to allow the images to tell the story.
However, this is such a slow-moving film that develops its dramatic arcs with such a blase approach there is little weight to it.
It merely hints at the feminist aspect; Mary makes the society-defying decision to ditch her family but without so much as a shoulder shrug.
Being that the script was written by two women, Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, it is surprising the female perspective is so muted.
This also ends up being as much about Jesus as it is about Mary.
Rooney Mara starts in Mary Magdalene.